The provincial government has approved the transfer of Conifex Timber’s forest license to Hampton Lumber.
In a news release on Oct. 28, Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) said the deal was given the green light on Oct. 25.
“I approved the transfer of a forest licence and associated road permits from Conifex Timber Inc. to Fort St. James Forest Products, a subsidiary of Hampton Lumber Mills. After a comprehensive review of this public asset, I determined that this transfer is in the public interest and will benefit British Columbians,” Donaldson said.
“As a condition of the transfer, Hampton has committed to build a new mill in Fort St. James that will be operational within 36 months of closing the transaction with Conifex. It is my expectation that Hampton will continue to work closely with First Nations to develop business and capacity-building arrangements and hire local workers. In addition, it must meet with the United Steelworkers’ local, and continue discussions with Fort St. James Green Energy and local logging contractors.”
The deal was first announced in June and was said to be worth $39 million.
While FLNRORD has approved the transfer, the sale has not yet closed, said Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Lumber in a separate news release.
“We’re excited about the tenure transfer approval and will work diligently with Conifex to complete the acquisition process. After the sale becomes final, we’ll have further information to share with the community regarding our short-term plans for managing the timber license and the mill site. We continue to work with First Nations and the community on long-term plans to develop a community-based sawmill operation that we can all be proud of.”
Zika told Lakes District News in June that the plan was to dismantle the Fort St. James sawmill but retain any usable equipment.
The size of the timber license has an annual allowable cut of up to 444,000 cubic metres.
The sawmill sale affected more than 220 employees of the Fort St. James facility.
Once finalized, the deal with Conifex will expand Hampton’s activities in the region beyond its Babine and Decker Lake Forest Products mills.