Tolko mill shuttered, company open to offers

By on December 16, 2016
The empty log yard of the now closed Tolko mill in Merritt. (Michael Potestio/Herald)

With its Merritt mill now closed, Tolko remains open to selling the site, but is not actively trying to sell the property.

“We’ve left the mill in such a way that it could be sold,” said Troy Connelly, Tolko’s senior general manager of lumber.

“The equipment in the mill is going to remain intact, and we’re going to continue to own the mill,” he said.

Mobile equipment such as forklifts and loaders have been moved to other mills, but sawmill equipment remains on site, he said.

Security personnel now to patrol the mill, he said.

Connolly reaffirmed Tolko still intends to supply the Merritt Green Energy Project, located on the property, with hog fuel.

“We don’t anticipate that there’s going to be a shortage for that facility,” Connolly said.

A work stoppage affecting nearly 200 workers at the biomass plant, however, has stalled progress on the facility’s construction.

Though the project is slated to be complete and commissioned in 2017, a dispute between Iberdrola Canada Energy Services Ltd. and a sub-contracted company has led to a work stoppage in Merritt.

While production has now ceased at the mill, Tolko will continue to log in the Merritt Timber Supply Area and will maintain nine woodlands staff at the mill.

Connolly said logs harvested in the Merritt area will be shipped to its other mills in the southern Interior.

“Our loggers are going to continue to work in the community,” Connolly said.

In a press release issued back in September, Tolko stated that a lack of timber supply following the province’s reduction to the annual allowable cut (AAC) led to the decision to close the Merritt mill.

This past spring, B.C.’s chief forester dropped the AAC in the Merritt Timber Supply Area by 900,000 cubic metres, moving from 2.4 million cubic metres to 1.5 million. Come March 24, 2021 it will decrease to 1.2 million cubic metres. The Kamloops TSA was dropped 1.7 million cubic metres from 4 million to 2.3 million cubic metres.

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