Mill opening signals resurgence of forestry in Northwest B.C.
The sawmill at Kitwanga was officially reopened Friday under new owners, marking the return of lumber production to the province’s Northwest after a two and a half year absence reports Vancouver Sun. The new sawmill is the only sawmill operating west of Smithers, a region of the province which once contained two pulp mills and half a dozen sawmills.
Pacific BioEnergy, which operates a wood pellet mill in Prince George, officially reopened the mill at Kitwanga after purchasing it out of receivership in 2009.
“In addition to the sawmill, we acquired a forest licence in the region that was attached to the sawmill. We see a tremendous opportunity in the area for wood and below-quality pulp-grade logs that could be used for wood-pellet raw material for the future. That’s the primary motivation,” he said to the paper.
The sawmill’s production will be split between sales to the domestic market and the export market, primarily China. New demand for chips on the southern Coast, where sawmills have also closed, has created a market for Kitwanga chips, which could be shipped south through either Prince Rupert or Kitimat. A wood pellet plant would make use of the rest of the log residue - sawdust and bark - that used to be burned as waste, Young said to Vancouver Sun.