By Joshua Estabrooks

Pioneer Staff

The Akisqnuknik Development Corporation and WoodEx Industries Ltd. have signed an historic working protocol agreement that will join the two companies in what representatives said they hope will be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Lillian Rose

The non-legally binding document commits 5,225 cubic metres of timber from the Akisqnuknik Development Corporations non-replaceable forest licence in the Cranbrook timber supply area to WoodEx, who has in turn committed to purchasing the timber at fair market value.

Representatives from the Akisqnuk First Nation, WoodEx Industries, local and provincial government, and the business community were all in attendance at a special luncheon event at the Radium Resort on Thursday, November 24th as the two companies signed the agreement.

President and CEO of the Akisqnuknik Development Corporation, Lillian Rose, said the hope is that formally establishing a working relationship will facilitate a process where the Akisqnuknik Development Corporation could increase their allowable cut volume, as well as help increase employment and investment in the valley.

If WoodEx can increase the volume of wood that comes in to their mill, they can expand to two shifts, she said. We are committed to helping them reach that goal. Every part of the log is used at the mill. From the tree to the bark to the shavings to the sawdust, everything is used.

WoodEx currently creates and exports value-added lumber products, primarily for Chinese and Japanese markets. The mill does not have its own forest tenure; so it must rely on the open market for the wood it requires to operate. The secure source of fibre the agreement establishes will allow WoodEx the long-term stability to make some much needed upgrades to its operations, said President and CEO, Douglas Riddell.

We plan to move off of propane and use our waste wood to fuel the drying kilns, resulting in a reduction of 7,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, said Mr. Riddell.

The Akisqnuknik Development Corporation would like to achieve a 100,000 cubic metre allowable cut volume, which could translate into a significant amount of money for the First Nation and the valley as a whole, Ms. Rose said.

We see this as a start of future potential business opportunities and there will be lots of spin-off opportunities that come out of this.