Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lax Kw'alaams and their global footprint

The forestry ambitions of Lax Kw'alaams are starting to gain notice outside of the Northwest, and from Vancouver to Beijing it seems that their plans and success so far is gaining an audience.

The Vancouver Sun's Gordon Hamilton has provided a detailed look at the operations of Coast Tsimshian Resources, describing the Lax Kw'alaams based company as a powerhouse in the northwest.

From Hamilton's review  we learn how the company has progressed over the last ten years, taking on the risky initiative of purchasing the Skeena Forest Products timber licence and turning it into what is now a successful logging business earning an estimated $30 million a year in revenues.

Since those early days, Coast Tsimshian Resources has developed into one of the largest holders of timber rights in the province, with access to more than 700,000 cubic metres of timber a year.

The article outlines the impact of that investment on the community of Lax Kw'alaams and how the community and its resource company is now finding success in China, where Coast Tsimshian Resources has opened a trade office located in Beijing.

From their timber lands have come major contracts overseas which are beginning to bear fruit for the company, 2009 saw Coast Tsimshian sign an agreement with Chinese interests, this first contract will see a shipment of 25,000 cubic-metre shipment of low-grade logs forwarded to Chinese lumber mills.

It was part of the overall harvest of 350,000 cubic metres of logs from that year, 200,000 of which was destined for China, Japan or Korea. The remainder for the most part is sent to Vancouver where it is milled at a local sawmill on the south coast for the domestic market.

The selling of logs to China is seen as but the start of a larger plan for Coast Tsimshian, which would include the purchase of the Watson Island pulp mill site, seemingly in a state of limbo at the moment while the City of Prince Rupert and the former owner Sun Wave work their way through the courts.

Should Coast Tsimshian become the successful bidder for the property, the main focus of their interest appears at the moment to be the power plant, which can run on wood pellets and is capable of generating 50 megawatts of electricity.

Their interest in Watson Island seems to be focused on the prospect of turning local wood into pellets for that powerhouse, should the process ever come to a final conclusion.

They apparently have no desire to re-open the pulp mill as an ongoing concern, and with the province's forestry industry still in decline at the moment, they don't see much of a margin for success for a sawmill operation at the current time.

That final point is perhaps the one sticking point locally regarding the success thus far of the company, there are still many former forestry employees that feel that there is a need to mill lumber in BC, providing value added products and jobs. Something that is addressed in the article to a degree, though through the prism of the current difficulties of the forestry today.

For the most part, the Sun article outlines the larger vision of the company though, it's now global reach and the impact that it has on the local community.

It's well worth a read to learn a little bit more about one of the ongoing engines of the local economy.

Vancouver Sun-- Coast Tsimshian Resources leads Northwest economic revival
Coast Tsimshian Resoruces-- Company website

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