Vernon, British Columbia, Canada 12 February 2013 -- Citing sustained improvements in the US housing markets and increased customer demand, Brad Thorlakson president and CEO of Tolko Industries Ltd. announced today that the company is proceeding with preparations to reopen its Athabasca mill in Slave Lake, Alberta. The oriented strand board (OSB) and engineered wood products mill, which was curtailed indefinitely in February 2009 due to poor market conditions, is expected to start production by the first quarter of 2014.
Thorlakson said, “Before we could commit to the significant financial and human resource investment required to restart the mill, we had to determine, to the greatest degree possible, that current improvements in market conditions are sustainable. We are confident about the future of the industry and look forward to positive years ahead. Reopening Athabasca confirms our commitment to meeting the needs of our customers through innovation and product development."
Jim Baskerville, Tolko’s vice president OSB and Kraft Paper said, “Athabasca is a state-of-the-art facility with the longest continuous press in North America capable of producing high performance OSB and laminated strand lumber. We have carefully maintained the facility during the curtailment, and will be executing additional capital projects to ensure a successful restart. It could take between nine to twelve months from today’s announcement before the plant is readied for operation, all of the employees are hired, trained and production can begin. ”
Commenting on this announcement, Diana McQueen, Alberta's minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development said, “The Government of Alberta welcomes the announcement of the re-opening of the mill. This is a good sign that our strategy of economic diversification is working, and that the forestry industry in Alberta is on the road to recovery. I look forward to working with Tolko in the months ahead to address issues and ensure the site is properly re-developed.”
Once fully operational, the mill will employ approximately 150 people directly, a contractor logging workforce, and generate a large number of indirect employment opportunities in the community. “As we move toward full production, we will have a number of attractive positions available that we hope will not only entice previous employees to return, but bring new skilled employees to the site,” said Baskerville. He added, “We will be working closely with our local community, customers, contractors, suppliers and other stakeholders as we ready the mill for production. Pearl Calahasen MLA for Lesser Slave Lake said, “This is great news for Slave Lake Region. As the communities continue to rebuild, it’s reassuring to know that new employment opportunities are being generated. This is exciting news for the area and the forest industry.” People who are interested in employment opportunities are encouraged to visit Tolko’s website at www.tolko.com, send an e-mail to Athabasca.Opportunities@tolko.com or call 250-549-5389. Slave Lake is a town of approximately 7,000 people located in northern Alberta in the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River. For more information on the town, visit www.slavelake.ca. About Tolko Industries Ltd.Tolko Industries Ltd. is a private, Canadian-owned forest products company based in Vernon, British Columbia with approximately 2,900 employees. Tolko is a major producer and marketer of lumber, veneer, plywood, oriented strand board, and kraft papers, with manufacturing operations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The company’s woodlands operations have received third-party certification of their sustainable forest management systems. Tolko is also a member of the Forest Products Association of Canada and a signatory to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.