Logging wood waste could go to Harmac

Robert Barron, Daily News
March 30, 2009

The managers of Nanaimo's Harmac pulp mill are looking for ways to use the wasted wood left to rot on the forest floor by logging operations.

Utilizing wood waste is becoming a growing issue within the B.C. forest industry. The Forest Practices Board was asked this week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to find out how much wood is being left behind in B.C. forests.

The research institute, which focuses on issues of economic and social justice, filed a complaint after it released a report that indicates 4.5% of all timber harvested in the province is being left behind -- the equivalent of 17.5 million cubic metres of timber over five years.

That's almost twice the wood needed to fill a cross-country convoy of trucks bumper to bumper and enough to provide 2,400 additional industry jobs a year, the CCPA claims.

As part of its diversification plans for its 500-hectares of industrial land at Duke Point, Harmac is looking to produce green energy from wood waste in an electrical generation facility the mill's owner, Nanaimo Forest Products, plans to build at the site to add to B.C.'s power grid.

B.C. Hydro is about to begin a fresh call for tenders for new energy derived from the residual wood waste left on the forest floor from logging operations and Harmac is expected to submit a proposal to produce 70 to 100 gigawatts of power from wood.

Harmac spokesman Levi Sampson said an issue with the plan is how to transport the biomass from the forests to the mill. He said discussions are ongoing with the provincial government on establishing a system to get the waste wood to Harmac and other operations that have a use for it, and he expects decisions will be made by the end of the summer.

"The government could decide to just assign tenure to users like us and then we would be responsible for getting the wood waste to our site ourselves," Sampson said.

"The wood waste left over after logging operations should be used for other purposes because it doesn't make much sense to just leave it on the forest floor."

Harmac is also moving forward with its long-anticipated plan to set up a chipping operation at the site, which would help reduce the mill's reliance on increasingly troubled sawmills for its fibre supply.