Hampton Lumber has completed its purchase of Conifex Timber’s forest license and sawmill in Fort St. James, the company said on Nov. 1.
Hampton plans to build a new sawmill on the site of the Fort St. James facility and expects it to begin operations in 2022, according to a Hampton news release.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to expand our operations in British Columbia,” said Hampton CEO, Steve Zika. “While economic conditions in the British Columbia forest industry are currently challenging, we believe the future business climate is conducive to a long-term investment such as this. With the support of the First Nations, community and the provincial government, I believe we can create a successful business that will be sustainable for years to come.”
The announcement comes just days after the provincial government said that it had approved the forestry deal on Oct. 25.
The Oregon-based Hampton aims to build an operating structure for Fort St. James Forest Products similar to the joint venture it has with the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, which owns the Babine and Decker Lake sawmills.
“For the next several months, will be focused on designing a new sawmill that is sized for the available local timber volume,” said Zika.
Hampton plans to auction off most of the existing sawmill assets and begin preparing the site for construction next year, the release said.
“We want to thank the many people who have voiced their support for our plans,” said Zika. “We look forward to working with First Nations and other local partners to create a successful operation for the benefit of our many stakeholders and the community of Fort St. James.”
Members of the Hampton team will visit Fort St. James in the coming weeks to meet with First Nations, local government, community stakeholders and the United Steel Workers.
The purchase deal was first announced in June and is said to be worth $39 million. The size of the timber license is estimated to have an annual allowable cut of 444,000 cubic metres, as Zika said in September.