In some good news for Northeastern Ontario's forest industry, the EACOM Timber Corporation announced this week that a new, state-of-the-art continuous dry kiln (CDK) will be constructed at its Elk Lake sawmill, located approximately 200 kilometres southeast of Timmins.
The Montreal-based company is investing $8.9 million in the new addition, and expects it to be fully operational by the fall of this year.
It will allow for continuous drying of lumber, which will reduce production bottlenecks, and lower the overall energy consumption of the facility.
It will be the second such kiln EACOM has invested in, with its Timmins sawmill on the banks of the Mattagami River being equipped with a similar kiln in 2017.
Company brass is very excited about the development.
“This significant investment in Elk Lake is a testament not only to EACOM’s commitment to technological innovation and being best-in-class, but also to our long-term vision for this region,” said Kevin Edgson, president and chief executive officer.
“Built over 50 years ago, this mill has thrived alongside the community thanks to sustainable forestry practices, and now, with this latest addition, we are confident it will be an important partner for many more years to come.”
The sawmill will become more energy efficient, as the new system will eliminate the use of both diesel and propane fuel, which are both currently used in the heating process for both of the kilns, as well as the on-site buildings, he explained.
Once the new CDK is operational, all of the buildings will be exclusively powered by direct fired natural gas.
“The pandemic and subsequent demand for our essential products highlighted the need to fast track some of these investments and maximize our production capacity. We are proud that the fibre we harvest sustainably around Elk Lake is turned into homes for families across North America, as well as paper, cardboard, sanitary masks, and is even used in medication,” added Edgson.
The Elk Lake sawmill is a key economic driver for the small town of approximately 450 residents, with more than 140 locals directly employed. An additional 210 positions in the woodlands operations, contracting, and transportation fields are also connected to the facility.
EACOM said that since 2016, they have invested nearly $100 million across their nine operating facilities for maintenance and upgrades.
Andrew Autio is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Daily Press. LJI is a federally funded program.
Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press