West Fraser to rebuild Huttig, AR lumber mill
$23.8 million project to finish by year-end

West Fraser South, Inc., a subsidiary of the Canadian wood products company, has announced a major rebuild of its lumber manufacturing plant at Huttig, Arkansas. The company will spend an estimated $23.8 million on the optimizer mill upgrade, officials state.

The upgrade is aimed at increasing production capacity to 200 million board feet of Southern pine lumber, from the present 100 million board feet output.

The Huttig mill is one of two operated in the U.S. by the West Fraser South division, the other being at Joyce, Louisiana, adjacent to Winnfield. West Fraser acquired the two lumber manufacturing plants from Plum Creek Timber Co., in December, 2000, as Plum Creek shifted its focus to timberland ownership and management, shedding all manufacturing except plants in the Northeastern United States. Plum Creek continues to supply a major share of logs to West Fraser, maintaining continuing forestry operations at Joyce and Huttig.

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and operates lumber, plywood, linerboard, kraft, pulp, and newsprint paper mills in the Western Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Total lumber production at 14 Canadian and two U.S. mills was 2,347,000 MBF.

West Fraser is a publicly traded corporation, with operations earnings of $209 million on gross sales of $1,632,000 in 2002. Sales were increased from $1,562,000 in 2001, according to the published annual report.

Upgrade of the Huttig, Arkansas mill is expected to be complete before the end of this year, according to company spokesman. The expenditures anticipated include $1 million for replacement of the main boiler; $19.8 million for the sawmill; and $3 million for the kiln.

Huttig mill employs an average of 160, including salaried personnel, and operates two shifts. Operations will continue on the present mill during the construction phase, the company said.

The Joyce mill was rebuilt during the Plum Creek ownership between 1997 and 2000.