West Fraser modernization ensures long-term sustainability

Government officials toured High Prairie Forest Products after management announced a $55 million modernization of the mill on June 9. Left-right are general manager Lee Barton, planer superintendent Robert Mourre, Town of High Prairie treasurer Terri Wiebe, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee, Lesser Slave Lake MLA constituency assistant Cathy Wilcox, High Prairie Councillor Arlen Quartly, HPFP woodlands manager Tim Burns and High Prairie Councillor Donna Deynaka, who also works at the mill.

Richard Froese
South Peace News
High Prairie Forest Products has launched a $55 million modernization that will make it one of the top mills on the continent.

“We are very excited to announce the sawmill and kiln modernization project,” says Lee Barton, general manager of HPFP, a division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.
“It’s one of the biggest projects in the mill’s history and for West Fraser.”

He announced the project June 9 to members of the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County councils, and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee.

“Improvements will make High Prairie Forest Products one of the most modern mills in North America,” Barton says.

The production will match the original plan for the stud mill when it was purchased from Buchanan on April 4, 2014 to 180,000 million board feet a year from 86,000.

“It will bring long-term stability to our employees, families and the people of High Prairie, Big Lakes County and the region,” Barton says.
“This mill will be better suited to weather turbulent times in the lumber industry.”

Construction started May 1 and scheduled to be completed by Nov 24 on major work, with minor construction completed by the end of March 2018, he says.

Work includes a new modernizer and log infeed, new canter line, new waste conveyors, dust extraction for the mill, a second continuous kiln and industry-leading safe guarding.

Employees will also welcome new lunchrooms and washrooms and improved office space.

Construction has created an increase in contractors in town for the next six to nine months.

“More indirect employment will be needed to supply fiber to the facility and take fiber away,” Barton says.

Currently the mill employs as staff of 120 on site.

“Gordon Buchanan did a fantastic job to build the mill and we want to carry that on,” Barton says.
“We are happy to be part of the future and be a good neighbour.”

West Fraser Mills is the largest lumber producer in North America with 41 mills in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the southern United States.

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