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San Group inks deal to land fibre for Alberni value-added plant

The Langley-based San Group, which operates mills in Port Alberni as well as the mainland, has signed a deal with Seaton Forest Products to ensure fibre supply for its operations.
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The Langley-based San Group, which operates mills in Port Alberni as well as the mainland, has signed a deal with Seaton Forest Products to ensure fibre supply for its operations.

With fibre supply a growing concern for many forest companies, the San Group said it saw an opportunity in partnering with Smithers-based Seaton to make the most out of wood that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Seaton uses dry wood, normally left in the forest to rot, and turns it into cants, which can be manufactured into value-added wood products.

“Over the past few years, San Group has invested heavily into the B.C. value-added wood products sector. We have constructed one of North America’s largest value-added wood products manufacturing facilities on Vancouver Island,” said Kamal Sanghera chief executive of the San Group.

“People wondered why we would build such a plant in Port Alberni. To us, it was simple — value-added manufacturing saves the environment and creates jobs.

“We want to show the world that value-added, renewable wood based building products can be manufactured at scale in Canada. Why waste our fibre and let other countries manufacture the wood we harvest?”

Andy Thompson, manager of Seaton said the deal benefits both companies.

“At Seaton, we process waste wood logs, logs that are generally burned in the forest, and we turn them into cants,” Thompson said.

“San Group is now taking our cants and turning them into value-added wood products.

San is fully integrated and has built a world-class wood products plant, specialized to create products such as tables, molding, chairs and door frames. In doing this, they are breaking the mold. Seaton also prides itself on its philosophy of jobs per metre not metres per job.”

Log supply appears to be at the root of Western planning to curtail operations at two of its mills.

According to the company, the Alberni Pacific Division will be temporarily curtailed beginning next week due to insufficient log supply and it may also be necessary to temporarily curtail operations at Chemainus.

“We are working hard to secure logs in order to continue operating,” said spokeswoman Babita Khunkhun. “Harvesting levels are seasonal based on weather conditions and winter weather typically challenges log availability at this time of year.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com