Vernon-based Tolko Industries Ltd. has teamed up with American counterparts Hunt Forest Products to build a $240-million state-of-the-art sawmill in Bienville Parish, La.
Bienville Parish is five hours north of New Orleans, at the top of the state, and four hours east of Dallas. It’s a town with a population of slightly more than 14,000 people and is considered a hunting and fishing paradise.
Construction on the new mill is expected to start in early 2022, and the new facility will employ approximately 60 people when operations begin in the first half of 2023. The sawmill will employ approximately 130 people when it is operating at full capacity.
The new sawmill project is a joint venture between Hunt Forest Products and Tolko, a 60-year-old family-owned Canadian forestry industry company that produces a wide range of forest products for customers around the world. Tolko partnered with Hunt Forest Products to build a modern sawmill in Urania, La., that began operations in 2018.
Similar to the Urania sawmill, Tolko will own a 50 per cent share, and the mill will be managed and operated by Hunt on a day-to-day basis.
“Our first venture into the United States was in partnership with Hunt Forest Products, a family-owned company like ours, and that has been very successful,” said Brad Thorlakson, Tolko president and CEO. “So, we are looking forward to working with the Hunt family again to bring another state-of-the-art sawmill, and jobs, to Louisiana.”
Added James D. Hunt, co-owner and vice-chairman of the board of directors of Hunt Forest Products: “We are excited to be bringing our second high-tech sawmill, and the skilled jobs it will provide, to Louisiana, and to provide a local outlet for the massive inventory of southern yellow pine that exists in this state.”
The mill will prioritize buying timber locally, and it is estimated that the mill will require approximately 1.3 million tons of wood annually to produce approximately 320 million board feet of lumber annually, Hunt said. The facility will be located on approximately 255 acres of land including the existing Taylor sawmill site and some adjacent timberland.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the state strongly supports the project and is particularly pleased that the facility will be in Bienville Parish.
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