April 27, 2009
BELLEDUNE (CNB) - The approval of a temporary allocation of 50,000 cubic metres of birch and poplar from Crown land will allow Shaw Resources to maintain jobs at its wood pellet plant in Belledune. The announcement was made today by Environment Minister Roland Haché, on behalf of Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles.
"I'm very pleased that government has been able to meet this request from Shaw Resources, which has had difficulty obtaining enough raw material to produce wood pellets to meet customer requirements," said Haché. "This temporary allocation will allow the company to meet its customers' needs, and maintain all 15 jobs, which is critical for our region during these difficult economic times, and as we move toward a self-sufficient New Brunswick."
The plant, which began production a year ago, was designed to produce wood pellets from sawmill byproducts such as sawdust and shavings. The anticipated supply has been affected by the slowdown in the sawmill industry due to the slump in lumber sales to the United States.
Gordon Dickie, general manager of Shaw Resources, said that the availability of sawmill byproducts has changed greatly in the three years since the company conducted a feasibility study prior to building the Belledune pellet plant.
"If you look at the number of sawmills that were operating in northern New Brunswick and Quebec when we first did the feasibility study for the plant three years ago, and those that are running today, there is much less output now," said Dickie. "That's why we need to add additional raw material in the form of chipped roundwood."
The company is investing in additional equipment so that it can chip white birch pulpwood and low-grade poplar in order to produce pellets.
The allocation will be purchased from companies that are already carrying out harvesting operations on Crown timber licences 1 and 3 within a 100-kilometre radius of Belledune.
One of the requirements of the allocation is that the Crown wood not displace wood now being purchased from private woodlots. Shaw Resources says that it intends to purchase about 500 tonnes weekly of white birch, poplar and other wood species through the North Shore Forest Products Marketing Board, which is an amount equal to half the temporary Crown allocation.
Dickie said that the company will, if possible, purchase all of its required roundwood through the marketing board. Presently there is an insufficient supply of relatively low-value wood from private woodlots in the Belledune area to meet the company's needs for raw materials.
"All the roundwood we've been buying so far is from private woodlot owners, through the marketing board," said Dickie. "What I've told Minister Stiles and the board is, if I can buy all of the roundwood that I need, competitively, from the private woodlot owners, then that is our first choice."
The temporary allocation is for a period of one year, expiring March 31, 2010.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Matt Jones, communications, Department of Natural Resources, 506-453-2614, e-mail: email@example.com; Gordon Dickie, 902-758-4740, or 902-499-9343, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.