By Barry Coulter
Black Press staff
A new era has begun in the East Kootenay forest industry, with the completion of Canfor’s purchase of Tembec assets in the region.
On Monday, March 26, Canfor President and CEO Don Kayne visited the area to oversee the launch of that new era.
“We’re thrilled to be here now,” Kayne said.
“We’ve made a big commitment to the East Kootenay. We have the Radium mill here, plus Elko and Canal Flats. Overall in the south here we’ve a much bigger position than we’ve had in a long time.”
The Vancouver-based forest products company announced in November, 2011, that it had reached an agreement with Tembec Industries Ltd. to take over the Elko and Canal Flats sawmills, and approximately 1.1 million cubic metres of combined Crown, private land and contract annual allowable cut. The transaction – worth about $60 million – includes a long-term residual fibre supply agreement for Tembec’s Skookumchuck mill.
“Overall, the industry has been through pretty tough times over the past five years,” Kayne said. “But about a year ago we started to see some optimism out there – as small as it was at the time, it was at least enough for us to make some commitments from a capital standpoint to really focus on modernizing our mills and getting competitive with the best sawmills in the world.
“So we’ve been on that program for about a year and a half. And at the same time, we’re looking for opportunities to improve our overall fibre position and overall quality of the fibre that we have as a company.
“So this opportunity came up with Tembec over the last 12 months that we been focused hard on this area.”
Kayne said the quality of the fibre, or the wood itself, in the East Kootenay is “second to none.”
“You could probably use those words to describe it across Canada,” he said. “We really believe it’s some of the best fibre you’ll find absolutely anywhere.
“There’s a heavy spruce here, it’s bigger wood, it’s white wood, there’s not a lot of beetle in this area – this region has all the things our global customers are looking for in terms of quality.”