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Sept 2004 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

MILL UPGRADES

Launching capital projects

BC’s Pacific Inland Resources has launched two major capital projects: a $12 million planer upgrade and a new $8.5 million energy system.

By Jim Stirling

Dave Walgren, PIR’s general manager (left) and project coordinator Martin Andres, with the operation’s kilns. The new energy system will heat all of PIR’s seven kilns.

Pacific Inland Resources (PIR) has launched two major capital projects at its sawmill in Smithers, British Columbia. The division of West Fraser Mills Ltd is following an aggressive timetable to complete a comprehensive planer upgrade, estimated to cost $12 million, and the installation of a new energy system budgeted at $8.5 million. The goal is to have the new-look planer up and running by December 2004 and the energy system fully commissioned by next spring. It means an intense few months ahead for the operation’s employees. The planer project blends existing serviceable equipment with new technology, says Dave Walgren, PIR’s general manager. “We’ll upgrade the existing planer infeed in 2005,” explains Walgren. “The planer itself will remain, but we’ll be adding a high grader capability to the end of the planer and a whole new building will be constructed to house the grading line, trim saw line and sorter.”

Equipment like the stacker and wrapping stations will be a combination of old and new, he adds. Some of the existing equipment in PIR’s planer building will be resurrected in the new configuration. PIR also has the option to re-use equipment from the old Skeena Cellulose Inc (SCI) mill located next door. West Fraser acquired the SCI sawmill, planer and its wood basket from New Skeena Forest Products in a deal that was finalized in June 2003. Some sawmill equipment from the SCI operation has been dismantled and sold but the planer was left intact, reports Walgren. The SCI fibre supply—which has a similar profile to PIR’s—moves the PIR mill complex closer to achieving operational capacity using its own quota. The combined AAC was 428,000 cubic metres before the provincial government’s Bill 28 take-back.

The goal is to have the new-look planer up and running by this December and the energy system fully commissioned by next spring, which will mean a busy time ahead for the PIR operation, located in Smithers, BC.

International Quest Engineering of Prince George is a key partner with PIR in the planer upgrade project. Walgren says much of the new equipment to be installed will be supplied by Coe Newnes/McGehee, including the high grader. JDG Construction of Vancouver will erect the new sections of planer building and marry them to the existing structure. Walgren anticipates the two immediate benefits from the planer upgrade will be a reduction in trim losses and an improvement in grade out-turn. “In the longer term, we are looking at more potential for different product lines,” he continues. These options include an MSR lumber producing capability, different cutting patterns and precision end trimming. The planer upgrade project is likely to result in a manning reduction in the range of four to five positions a shift, says Walgren. “But that depends on the productivity realized out of the planer,” he adds. Planer employees will also receive training on the new equipment and mill flow, as job requirements will change.

Pacific Inland Resources has been analyzing and researching the management of its wood residue generated on site for about four years. The company is installing a new energy system that will use bark as feedstock to heat oil for process transfer to the mill’s seven dry kilns. Del-Tech Industries of Prince George has custom designed and will install the componentry associated with the new system. It will have a capacity of 70 million BTUs and will be equipped with an electrostatic precipitator.

 PIR’s Dave Walgren (left) and Martin Andres with PIR’s beehive burner. The burner isn’t going to be retired with the start-up of the new energy system. It will be retained as a just-in-case back-up. It is currently run only intermittently.

The precipitator, supplied by PPC Industries in Longview, Texas, is guaranteed to meet the level of emissions as stipulated by BC Ministry of Environment requirements, says Walgren.“We’re pretty excited about the new system.” It will utilize 60 per cent of the mill’s wood residues, the brown portion. The bark will be pulverized in a hog—installed on site in 2002—and a walking floor type system will transfer it to a firebox. The energy yielded heats the oil for circulation to the kilns. The remaining 40 per cent white wood residue goes to West Fraser’s Eurocan Pulp & Paper operation at Kitimat, a deep sea port on BC’s northern coast.

Walgren says the new system will heat all the kilns. One, probably the oldest, will be replaced and designed to run on the hot oil system. Details were still to be finalized on which of the other six kilns would operate with a heat exchanger and work with forced air or undergo a complete retrofit to the hot oil energy system. Walgren says the system could be used to heat PIR’s buildings, including the new planer, but there are no plans for that at this time. The mill’s beehive burner isn’t to be permanently retired with the start-up of the new energy system, stresses Walgren. It will be retained as a just-in-case back-up to the new system and/or to accommodate residue requirements and operational circumstances at Eurocan, he points out. Beehive burner operation has been a contentious issue among residents in the Bulkley River valley.

Temperature inversions, especially in winter, can trap particulates from beehive burners and contribute to the deterioration of air quality. PIR has responded to community concerns. The burner is run only intermittently. When it operates, it does so on a 24-hour basis. It is monitored closely and fed with a continuous and steady supply of fuel. A system was set up to inject shavings into the burner to help control temperature. A hot and complete burn reduces particulate emissions.

Sidebar page 65

West Fraser to acquire Weldwood

In an announcement in July, PIR’s parent company West Fraser Timber Co said it has struck an agreement to acquire Weldwood of Canada for $1.26 billion. The transaction will combine two of Canada’s leading integrated forest products companies and continues the consolidation that is taking place in the Canadian forest industry. This transaction will make West Fraser the third largest lumber producer in North America. According to production figures from Logging & Sawmilling Journal’s Top 30 Lumber Producers published earlier this year, the company will now have production of more than 3.4 billion board feet of lumber.

With the purchase of Weldwood, West Fraser will acquire: four sawmills that are wholly-owned by Weldwood; full ownership of one sawmill in which the company is currently a 50 per cent joint venture partner with Weldwood; controlling interests in two other sawmills in which West Fraser and Weldwood are joint-venture partners; two plywood plants; a laminated veneer lumber facility; a pulp mill in Hinton, Alberta, and 50 per cent ownership in a second pulp mill in Quesnel, British Columbia; and five million cubic metres of Allowable Annual Cut, with licences in both BC and Alberta. Other forest companies in the region are still actively seeking long-term and viable solutions to the beehive burner phase-out issue.

One of the possible solutions is a co-generation plant using wood residues that has been proposed for Houston, BC. Co-gen continues to be the main thrust—hinging on operational partners and financing—although other areas of opportunity are being explored. Houston Forest Products, Canfor Houston and other operations have applied for an extension to their Tier 1 burner operation permits until 2008.The present extension granted by the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection expires in June, 2005.

A co-gen plant or other option cannot be completed by then. West Fraser is involved in the plans through its joint venture interest in Houston Forest Products, Babine Forest Products and its sawmill at Fraser Lake. But the PIR division has made it clear it doesn’t plan on having any contributable wood residues available for a co-gen plant or alternative endeavour in Houston. The SCI operation closure and Eurocan’s hog requirements means PIR needs its on-site wood residue system solution, says Walgren

 

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