Pinnacle Pellet to Suspend Operations at Kersley
Prince George, B.C.- Pinnacle Pellet has announced it will immediately curtail operations at its plant in Kersley, south of Quesnel, for 9 to 10 months.
Nineteen hourly employees are impacted by the decision, “We are making a real effort to try and move that talent on to some of our other locations, especially in the Cariboo region” says Pinnacle’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Leroy Reitsma “There’s also some work that will be involved in the day to day protecting of the assets during this period of downtime. We’re hoping to have the number of people effected by lay off down to below ten by the time we get through this process.”
Reitsma says the decision is based on a lack of fibre supply “I think as people in the region are well aware, there has been quite a significant change in the presence of sawmilling assets in the community, and as a result, the residual balance has changed considerably so the mill we own there, that was designed to process a specific group of residuals, mostly shavings, that volume is not available today. So we are having to look at longer term fibre supply and try to modify the mill to suit them.”
The 9 months will be used to define a fibre plan, and what changes will be needed at the plant to accommodate that supply. He says the fibre source will be ” More towards the non merchantable portion of the forest itself, be it logs that do not meet the grade necessary to produce lumber or other building products, or for that matter, fire kill volumes that might be integrated into our supply plan.”
The Kersley facility is the oldest of the Pinnacle assets. “It was based upon a very specific and readily available source of dry fibre in Quesnel, but with the mountain pine beetle, we’ve seen quite a shift in that” says Reitsma.
Pinnacle has had a recent string of fires at four of it’s facilities in the Province. There was an incident at the Lavington site at the end of March, then two fire incidents at the Houston operation in mid May, and a fire at the Kersley plant May 15th. All of the incidents remain under investigation.
Reitsma says the decision on the Kersley operation is not related to those incidents “We’ve been contemplating this decision for quite some time, recognizing the change in the fibre basket. I think our commitment to safety and the safety of our employees does factor into this decision, as youlook at a facility and you look at what it’s supposed to process different types of equipment are needed for each different type of material and I think some of this process is really trying to align those things.”
He says the Ministry of Forests has been “very eager to work with us on something that’s going to suit if there is an ability to create that long term stability, then we can invest with confidence in the equipment that’s required to process that fibre.”
He says if everything falls into line, Pinnacle hopes to have the plant up and running again by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2017.