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LETTER: A saw mill crisis in N.S?

Once again we are hearing from a few of the owners/managers of old conifer sawmills that if Northern Pulp were to cease production that softwood saw log delivery to those sawmills would also cease.   

That is simply an inaccurate statement.   

There would be nothing to cause a stoppage of harvesting and delivery of sawlogs.   

What would be forced to stop is the cutting of small trees that are not sawlogs.  Many of these should be left to grow and absorb carbon and other air emissions. They are the future forests. 

Some of these old sawmills have outdated technology that apparently gets only 45 per cent of each log as dimensional lumber. Newer and current saw designs (bandsaw primary mills) get as much as 80 per cent lumber from each log.  Thus less of the log is sent to the chipper and sawdust is reduced. Selling lumber is more profitable than selling chips and sawdust. Additional lumber requires more lumber to kiln dry which uses bark and other mill waste wood as fuel. They should go visit the Irving sawmill at Sussex, N.B., to see how to get better production.

Same old same old isn’t progress nor economical.    

The current exporters of chips can stop buying whole trees to chip and buy any excess the sawmills might have for sale. That is another win for Nova Scotia forests. Hardwood logs that are now being chipped for pulp can go instead to the two large hardwood sawmills in Nova Scotia. Employment hours at those mills would increase. Kiln drying hardwood lumber takes twice as long as does softwood lumber and twice the waste wood fuel.     

The closure of the pulp mill is an opportunity for needed change and update of saw equipment.   

D.G. Wilson

Sustainable Forest Products and Services

Brule Point, N.S.

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