The San Group has announced it’s going to invest $55 million in its Alberni Valley operations, with a total investment of potentially more than $100 million when you include the amount it intends to spend on Port Alberni’s port.
The forestry company plans to build a new biodegradable renewable energy plant and make upgrades at Port Alberni’s deep sea port — diverting most of its shipping and receiving away from Vancouver Island’s highways.
The company announced it’s going to build the biodegradable renewable energy plant at a third Alberni Valley site it owns on Hector Road, coming at a cost of $20 million.
“The pellet plant will turn about 10 tonnes worth of waste wood on a daily basis into pellets which can be used to heat people’s homes or used for export for production of electricity elsewhere in the world,” said Mike Ruttan, a company spokesperson.
The company says in the past, wood would just get burned locally instead of being turned into a more valuable product.
The company has also agreed to lease an 11-acre section of Port Alberni Port Authority land and spend $15 million dollars annually to upgrade the facilities. The investment could reach $60 million over five years.
“San will be using that to export product from the Port of Alberni and import materials so on the export side it’s going to be container ships,” said Ruttan.
The Port Authority says it hasn’t had lumber exports from its facilities since 2017 and the investment in dockside cranes and storage silos will be a gamechanger.
“[It] will also help us to make further investments in the shipping facilities, shipping equipment and attract other shippers both to export from Vancouver Island and import other products as well,” said David McCormick the Port Authority’s Director of Public Relations and Business Development.
The use of the deep sea port will divert commercial traffic from the Alberni Valley’s roads and Vancouver Island’s highways.
Port Alberni’s Mayor says the investments fit the community’s hopes and dreams.
“The investment in the port is incredible, seeing the San Group solidify their future in the community and really I would say take a significant step toward what the high-value forestry industry is. It’s exciting and we’re just thrilled to be host to the San Group,” said Sharie Minions, mayor of Port Alberni.
The San Group says it’s also investing in other technology to extract the most value from the logs it’s able to purchase.
The investments include a $5 million dollar eco-treating plant that the company says will be operational within 120 days and will produce 40 million board feet of product each year.
It will also purchase a Scragg saw line to handle additional small logs at a cost of $10 million.
It will also spend $15 million on a major expansion to the value-added plant complex using a new CNC manufacturing line to create sophisticated products for big box stores.
In April, the company pledged to sell lumber on Vancouver Island at a discount to competitors.