It has been a longtime since there has been a mill up and running in the Hazeltons but the lumber industry is strengthening once again and economic stability is starting to return to the North.
A few months after the re-opening of the Kitwanga Sawmill, it is now looking promising for the former Kispiox Forest Products mill which is now being used by Gitxan Forest Enterprises Inc. (GFEI).
General manager for GFEI Cam Stevens said they are working hard on purchasing the site and have already been given access.
“We have come to an agreement with the province on it and it should be finalized by March 30, 2012,” he said. “But right now we have the keys and we are full steam ahead.”
While there are several things in the works for the mill, the first order of business is to fix things up.
“The plan is to clean up the site and we will go in and utilize the office and do an assessment of the area to see what is needed,” Stevens said. “In the short term we will be looking at using the area as a sort yard and there has been some recent vandalism on the property which is a concern.”
Stevens said people have been breaking window and taking the fire extinguishers and shooting them off in the buildings. Another big concern is some of the copper wire was stolen.
“We are now looking to get some cooperation from the community to keep their eyes open,” he said.
They are moving into the offices already and starting to clean up the area as of last week as well as lookin
“We are looking at getting the sawmill up and running but it will take time and money and the first step is to get ownership of it which is quite exciting,” he said.
“There are lots of possibilities, like using the existing cogen powerplant there to burn some of the hog fuel to get power. We would like to use biofuel and utilize the assets we have.”
While there has been talk of putting a pellet mill at the site, Stevens said he knows the Kitwanga mill is moving towards having a pellet facility and that having two in the area might be tough so they are looking at all the options.
“We have had a few business people come around who saw the site and they are very interested,” he explained. “One person from France is interested in the power possibilities at the site and another Chinese businessman is very interested in logs and lumber, basically you name it.”
In the short term, the old site is starting to be revitalized and residents could start to see some activity this week.
“We feel like there is lot of potential and Ed Green is thinking about having one of the Ministers up for a ceremony and a signing,” he said. “But for now, we are hopeful and excited about the future.”