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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

August/September 2015

On the Cover:
Tolko’s Lavington, B.C. sawmill has recently seen a major upgrade that positions the operation well as lumber markets move in a healthy direction, with increased lumber demand, both in North America, and overseas. Read about the major improvements at the Lavington mill beginning on page 14 (Photo of Tolko mill by Paul MacDonald).

Learning from others
Canada’s forest industry will have to implement various approaches to attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce—and it can learn from other industries and companies, from Apple to Telus, on how to do this.

Re-start for Resolute sawmill
Resolute Forest Products recently re-started its Ignace, Ontario sawmill, having invested $10 million on improvements, with a strong focus on the infeed area so that the mill can now receive cut-to-length logs exclusively.

New headrig and optimization improvements for Tolko Lavington
Tolko Industries’ Lavington, B.C. sawmill has undergone a significant upgrade—involving installing a new headrig from Salem Equipment and associated controls from USNR—that has delivered a solid improvement in recovery.

Rain Forest Sawmill … in the rainforest
Dale Crumback has recently moved from sawyer to company owner at B.C.’s Rain Forest Sawmill, and things are hopping these days with a wide range of customers looking for a variety of wood produced from their biodiesel-powered Wood-Mizer LT 70 sawmill.

Logging ‘n lobsters
New Brunswick logging contractor Drew Conley juggles running a logging operation—with most of the wood going across the line, to Maine—with helping out in the family fishing outfit, catching lobster.

Resolute’s wood pellets now generating power for Ontario
Resolute Forest Products recently completed construction of a $9 million wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay to supply Ontario Power Generation’s power plant in Atikokan with wood pellets as a fuel substitute.

Busy woodlot a welcome sign
One of the primary motivations in establishing the CVWPA woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets.

Fearless Contracting: not afraid of diversifying
Vancouver Island’s Fearless Contracting is finding the best business approach is diversification, and as part of that, it is increasingly doing logging work on B.C. Timber Sales, for other larger logging contractors, and for log brokers on the Island.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
With the federal election coming up, Jim Stirling says there may be a mood shift underway with voters, which could yield some surprising results.

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A First Nations company, Dallan Forestry, has been contracted to provide all the equipment and employees to conduct yard work at the Resolute Ignace stud mill.A First Nations company, Dallan Forestry, has been contracted to provide all the equipment and employees to conduct yard work at the Resolute Ignace stud mill.

Re-start for Resolute sawmill

Resolute Forest Products recently re-started its Ignace, Ontario sawmill, having invested $10 million on improvements, with a strong focus on the infeed area so that the mill can now receive cut-to-length logs exclusively.

By Tony Kryzanowski

It took a while, but the residents and mayor of the town of Ignace, Ontario have gotten their wish: a successful re-start of the Resolute Forest Products stud mill near their community in the northwestern corner of the province. Even better news is that the sawmill is also in hiring mode, as they are in the process of adding a third shift.

A First Nations company, Dallan Forestry, has been contracted to provide all the equipment and employees to conduct yard work at the Resolute Ignace stud mill.Wayne Nyberg (far right) was on the team that oversaw the construction of the Resolute stud mill in Ignace in 2004 and has returned to manage the operation now that it is back in production.

Some background: Resolute purchased the sawmill in 2000 and spent about $30 million to completely rebuild it, with construction completed in 2004. At that time, all of its lumber drying and planing was done in Thunder Bay. Resolute then placed it in idle mode in 2006 because as a new entrant into the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States, it did not have a quota to ship lumber to the U.S. at that time. Then, the industry as a whole experienced a severe downturn with the collapse of the American housing market.

However, local residents and politicians lobbied hard to ensure that the stud mill would re-open some day, and they got their wish at the beginning of this year.

Lee Kennard, Ignace Mayor and a veteran of the forest industry himself, says the mill closure in 2006 was a surprise and an economic shock to the community, considering that 150 jobs were lost in a town of just 1200 people. However, he always believed that the sawmill would re-open some day and is confident that the sawmill has a strong future.

Kennard’s only concern is with environmental organizations like Greenpeace which has been lobbying hard for greater restrictions on logging in the area, which is also home to a designated species at risk, the woodland caribou. He feels there needs to be a balance between preserving caribou habitat and providing economic opportunity for the region. Forestry is a major economic driver in the area, and he hopes that continues. Ignace is a couple hours northwest of Thunder Bay and is located along the Trans-Canada Highway—a region noted for its hunting and fishing experiences. The sawmill, however, is the largest employer in Ignace.

Wayne Nyberg (far right) was on the team that oversaw the construction of the Resolute stud mill in Ignace in 2004 and has returned to manage the operation now that it is back in production.Comact was the main supplier of both scanning and processing equipment at the Resolute Ignace stud mill. Between a major upgrade in 2004 and most recently when the stud mill was recommissioned, a total of $40 million has been spent on the mill.

“I think the sawmill is here to stay,” says Wayne Nyberg, Resolute Ignace sawmill manager. “This part of Ontario from Thunder Bay west is a big part of Resolute’s plans. We want to be here and we have shown that by the significant investments that we have made in northwestern Ontario. I think there is a very good future for both the Ignace and Atikokan sawmills."

Nyberg said a number of developments made the re-opening of the stud mill possible including the availability of quota to ship Ignace lumber to the U.S., long term forecasts for healthy lumber prices, the ability to supply chips to Resolute’s paper mill in Thunder Bay, partnering with the new Atikokan sawmill to plane their lumber, and Resolute’s overall investment plan for its facilities in northwestern Ontario.

Lobbying by local residents paid off in that the Ignace stud mill became part of a massive investment that Resolute Forest Products has made into that area of Ontario. In addition to re-opening the Ignace stud mill, the company is currently commissioning a brand new dimension sawmill about an hour-and-a-half south of Ignace near Atikokan, has upgraded its dimension sawmill in Thunder Bay, and has constructed a new wood pellet plant attached to its Thunder Bay sawmill (see story on this new wood pellet plant beginning on page 44 of this issue of LSJ). A considerable amount of this wood pellet production is being sold to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for use as fuel as part of its conversion to wood pellets at some of its formerly coal-fired power plants.

Resolute Forest Products has spent an additional $10 million on the Ignace facility, particularly on the infeed area so that it can now receive 9’ cut-to-length (CTL) logs exclusively, as opposed to the tree length logs that the sawmill was originally designed to slash and process. It has also installed two refurbished Nicholson debarkers and two new Wellons dry kilns, each with a capacity of 280,000 board feet. The drying system includes a wood shavings-fueled heat generation system, equipped with direct-fired, McConnell Sales and Engineering Corp. burners. The wood shavings will come from the Atikokan planer mill.

Resolute worked with Edmonton-based CLLB Consulting as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor on its latest $10 million capital project.

Comact was the main supplier of both scanning and processing equipment at the Resolute Ignace stud mill. Between a major upgrade in 2004 and most recently when the stud mill was recommissioned, a total of $40 million has been spent on the mill.The 115 million board feet of 9’ stud material from 2” X 3” to 2” X 6” being produced annually at the Ignace stud mill is nearly 30 per cent more than the 85 million board feet originally targeted by the company when the mill was built. This volume increase is being achieved through greater operating efficiency and the addition of a third shift. Their wood fibre is spruce, pine and fir, sourced anywhere from less than a half-hour away from the mill to two hours away. The average log diameter is about 7”. While the studs are being manufactured and dried in Ignace, they are being planed at the new Atikokan sawmill.

Resolute’s investment in northwestern Ontario has gone hand in hand with a greater partnership with the area’s First Nations communities. For example, a First Nations company called Dallan Forestry has the contract to provide all yard services in four of Resolute’s northwestern Ontario facilities, including the Ignace facility. This includes unloading log trucks, decking the logs, and moving logs to the sawmill infeed as needed. They also transport stacks of lumber from the sawmill to the kilns, from the kilns to the storage yard, and load lumber on trucks for shipment to Atikokan.

Nyberg was part of the team that oversaw the original replacement of the entire sawmill near Ignace, and has returned to manage the sawmill after stints with the company in places like Mississippi, Alabama, and Thunder Bay. The power to re-start the stud mill was turned on last September and the mill was back in production by December. Nyberg says Resolute did an excellent job of keeping the stud mill in standby mode so that they were able to return to production in short order.

Comact was the main supplier of both scanning and processing equipment at the Resolute Ignace stud mill. Between a major upgrade in 2004 and most recently when the stud mill was recommissioned, a total of $40 million has been spent on the mill.A third shift is being added to Resolute’s stud mill in Ignace, raising its production by about 37 percent from 85 million board feet to 115 million board feet per year.

Nyberg says that local residents can’t be blamed for having a bit of a “show me” attitude when it comes to believing that the sawmill is back to full production with a strong future. Prior to the new stud mill being built, the privately-owned sawmill, operating on the same site west of town, had a history of stops and starts. When Resolute constructed the new sawmill and then promptly placed it in mothballs, it seemed like history was repeating itself to many local residents.

“The general feeling in the community is now pretty good,” says Nyberg. “They are happy we are here and they are happy we are back. There was a lot of apprehension as to whether or not we were going to re-start. The people are coming around and they are starting to believe.”

Resolute is adding a third shift at the stud mill, raising the full staff complement to 70 employees. It is focused on hiring local residents and some former employees were rehired. It has also provided an opportunity for local men and women to acquire valuable new skills working in an industrial setting. Nyberg says that while there is still a manual labor component to working at the sawmill, the fact that it is a fully modern stud mill with considerable automation has been a bonus for attracting employees with little or no experience. On the flip side, however, there are more technical requirements on employees, so there is a considerable amount of job shadowing. Training began last December, and the stud mill was operating on a two-shift basis by January. The stud mill has attracted some skilled tradespeople, but like so many other forestry companies, the recruiting effort is ongoing.

Comact was the main supplier of both scanning and processing equipment at the Resolute Ignace stud mill. Between a major upgrade in 2004 and most recently when the stud mill was recommissioned, a total of $40 million has been spent on the mill.A major part of the further $10 million that Resolute has spent at its stud mill in Ignace was to install two new Wellons dry kilns, each with 280,000 board foot capacity. Previously, the studs produced at Ignace were dried in Thunder Bay.

“We try to hire as many people from Ignace as possible, to provide jobs that are close to home and to support the community,” says Nyberg. At present, the stud mill operates two 10 hour-shifts from Monday to Thursday, and when the third shift comes on board, it will work three 12 hour shifts, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

The logs are placed at the mill infeed into two infeed decks leading to two Nicholson debarkers and then to four sort bins. Production is organized on a species basis to achieve greater consistency in the dry kilns. Logs in the sort bins are processed through a single line, featuring a Comact optimizing scanner and a Comact DDM6 SBP breakdown unit, which features a canter quad at the front end. Nyberg says the SBP profiling feature gives the stud mill the ability to optimize its sawing solutions based on the log scan. The sideboards proceed through an edger while all the lumber is processed through a manual trimmer and then stacked for drying. All this equipment was provided by Comact.

One of the consequences of the shutdown in 2006 was the loss of several local logging contractors, but with logging contracts now available for both the Ignace and Atikokan sawmills, that is ramping up again and providing additional jobs.