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Columbia invests in Hearst plywood mill upgrades

Province aids plywood producer with new machinery, equipment purchases
Columbia Hearst veneer grader
Veneer grader at Columbia's Hearst mill (Facebook photo).

Columbia Forest Products is investing $16.6 million in its hardwood plywood mill in Hearst.

The upgrading project involves purchasing and installing new machinery and equipment to increase productive capacity, improve efficiency and help the company expand into new export markets.

To assist the North Carolina-headquartered company, the province is providing close to $3.2 million over five years through its Forestry Growth Fund.

What specific equipment Columbia is purchasing is being kept under wraps.  

“The company considers detailed information on the types of equipment it will purchase as commercially sensitive and confidential information,” said Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski.

They’ll be positive spinoffs for Columbia’s Rutherglen veneer mill, located between Mattawa and North Bay, as it will result in an increase in demand for products that the Rutherglen mill supplies to the Hearst mill for its production.  

This project is expected result in the creation of 68 new jobs between the two facilities. 

“Notwithstanding the need for some protection of our investment strategies, suffice to say that we are investing in technology that includes more efficient panel pressing, log conditioning, work cell relocations, core stock upgrading and core drying improvements,” said Gary Gillespie, Columbia’s executive vice-president of Canadian plywood and decorative veneer operations.

Columbia is one of North America's largest manufacturers of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer products used in cabinetry, furniture, architectural millwork and commercial fixtures.