Premier Christy Clark celebrated the grand reopening of the Kitwanga mill and 90 new jobs in Northwestern British Columbia.
"After more than two years of inactivity, it's great to see the Kitwanga sawmill back in business, providing much-needed jobs for families in the Northwest," said Premier Clark.
"Strong, healthy communities are built by the people who live here and the reopening of this mill allows skilled workers to support their families right here in Kitwanga."
The Kitwanga lumber mill's return to production has directly generated 45 mill jobs and another 45 indirect jobs in logging, hauling, silviculture and support services and supplies.
Lumber production resumed in June 2011 after Pacific BioEnergy acquired the mill in fall 2009 from the Kitwanga Lumber Co. An estimated 80 per cent of Kitwanga's production is for domestic markets across Canada, with the other 20 per cent destined for China, Japan and Korea.
"Kitwanga is the best news that the Northwest B.C. forest sector has received in quite some time," said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson. "The recent restart is yet another step forward on the road to recovery, and highlights government's success in opening up the Chinese market for lumber and wood-frame construction."
"The people of Kitwanga have never given up on their mill and today is a triumph for them," said Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell. "The Province looks forward to working with both Pacific BioEnergy and the people of Kitwanga to help sell their lumber to markets both here in North America and in the Asia-Pacific region."
Kitwanga mainly mills dimension lumber and square timbers from western hemlock, balsam, and some cedar. Fibre is supplied via Terrace-based company PacFor, which manages three forest licences that provide the Kitwanga sawmill with an estimated 150,000 cubic metres of allowable annual cut. Pacific BioEnergy is pursuing an agreement with the Gitanyow to supply another 100,000 cubic metres per year to the Kitwanga sawmill. Pacific BioEnergy is also exploring fibre supply opportunities with the Gitxsan.
"The re-opening of the Kitwanga mill has really been a collaborative effort on the part of our employees, contractors, suppliers, the Gitanyow, the Gitxsan and the local community," said Pacific BioEnergy vice president Brad Bennett. "With the sawmill back in operation we can focus our attention on development of a wood pellet manufacturing plant for Kitwanga. We are working to identify a site for the mill and on engineering and environmental challenges and hope to have an announcement in a matter of months, not years."
In addition to the Kitwanga sawmill, Pacific BioEnergy owns and operates a Prince George wood pellet plant, one of the largest in North America.
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations