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$12-million kiln unveiled at Island sawmill first of its kind on B.C. coast

Western Forest Products says similar upgrades to Ladysmith also coming in Nanaimo and Chemainus
Western Forest Products unveils its new $12.3-million continuous dry kiln at the Saltair division sawmill on Monday, Feb. 25. (Duck Paterson photo)


Western Forest Products’ new $12-million continuous dry kiln is up and running at the Saltair division sawmill.

The project was announced a year and a half ago and on Monday, Feb. 26, the company held the official ribbon cutting at the mill at the end of Raven Road in Ladysmith.

Western CEO Steven Hofer said the mill now has the first continuous dry kiln on the coast of B.C., enabling increased capacity for continuous drying of lumber, while reducing energy consumption by about one-third.

“The new kiln is a significant add to the mill which has three existing kilns on site for drying lumber,” he said.

Design and construction on the project was done by Wellons Canada from Surrey, and John Wallace, capital sales representative with Wellons, was on hand to explain and show off the new production features.

He explained how the operation works as lumber travels on an alternating track system, making the kiln more energy-efficient as it will reduce the amount of gas consumption while doing twice the workload. He added that the new kiln has sensors every 20 feet so that it can slow down or speed up the process depending on the wetness or dryness of the lumber.

“The water from the steam is collected so that it’s not dumped into the creek or the storm drain, and it goes into a cleaning system so that it can be as clean as it can,” he said.

The wood will travel at approximately three and a half feet per hour so on average it will take a little over three days to dry a kiln load of cut lumber. The new kiln is anticipated to be able to dry 72 million board feet per year at 190 F with a natural gas burner.

“The Saltair division is the largest single-line sawmill on the coast, following the multi-phase capital investment of over $42 million to modernize the sawmill since 2013,” said Hofer.

Western Forest Products operates eight sawmills and two re-manufacturing plants on Vancouver Island, providing 3,500 jobs that support communities across the province. Hofer said Western doesn’t export any raw logs, harvesting about 3.1 million cubic metres a year with all of that fibre utilized in B.C.

“This upgrade is great news for our community and a testament to our workforce in Ladysmith,” said Mayor Aaron Stone, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting. “The forest sector is the backbone of the B.C. economy and increasing its competitiveness through investments, such as Western’s, support the communities and individuals who rely on the industries.”

Western is moving ahead with plans for two more continuous dry kiln projects; one at Nanaimo’s Duke Point sawmill, and the other one at its value-added division in Chemainus.

READ ALSO: Western Forest Products announces $29 million in upgrades at central Island operations