Domtar’s Sault Ste. Marie sawmill expects to be a machine stress-rating (MSR) producer of premium softwood lumber this fall.
The forest products company is investing $562,000 in the purchase and installation of MSR equipment to allow the mill to grade softwood lumber processed at the People’s Road site as a value-added product.
The Sault mill, which employs 150, currently kiln dries and dresses lumber sawn at Gogama Forest Products.
MSR lumber is strength-tested mechanically for use in construction of trusses and other engineered wood products.
The Sault sawmill will initially produce two feet by three feet and two feet by four feet MSR lumber in eight-foot lengths, producing about seven million board feet annually.
The mill will also deliver MSR two feet by three feet flange stock to the neighbouring Anthony-Domtar I-joist plant that began production of Power Joist beams last January.
In addition to the Sault mill, other Domtar mills in Nairn Centre and White River will deliver MSR stock to the Anthony-Domtar mill, a new joint-venture project.
Alex Encil, Domtar’s lumber superintendent, says the adjacent Anthony facility is a good natural fit and requires MSR material for their product line. However, he expects there will be enough material to sell to other customers as well.
The machine has the potential for millions of dollars in added revenue for the company, he says.
“There are several other Canadian truss manufacturers looking to buy that material, and with the big trend toward engineered wood products because of MSR, there will be other companies looking at doing engineered high beams and looking to buy material on the open market,” Encil says.
The mill expects to take delivery of the $290,000-machine in mid- to late-September to be operational by mid-October.
For the future, the mill is actively pursuing capital spending for an anticipated softwood sawing line to ensure their own reliable supply of fibre for the MSR machine, Encil says. Currently the mill receives about 53 million feet of fibre from Gogama, “but in the long-term for us, a softwood sawmill would be a strong advantage to continue that project.”