B.C. forest minister unhappy with inactivity of Sun Wave Forest Products in reopening closed Skeena Cellulose pulp mill in Prince Rupert

TERRACE, B.C. , May 28, 2008 () – Forest Minister Rich Coleman has stopped short of directly criticizing the lack of progress a Chinese company is making in re-opening the closed Skeena Cellulose pulp mill in Prince Rupert it bought three years ago.

But he clearly was irritated with the inactivity from Sun Wave Forest Products, a unit of the Chinese-state owned China Paper Group.

“Well I guess the disappointment is that they certainly haven't performed to what they said they would do,” said Coleman last week while visiting Terrace to host one of his roundtable discussions on the future of the forest industry.

“The disappointment is that there isn't something that integrates the forest sector up here. I guess what it does prove is that you really need deep, deep pockets.”

Sun Wave appeared in 2005, acquiring what was once a linchpin of the northwest forests industry for $3.3 million. The pulp mill at one time employed more than 500 people using fibre from the interior and other mills.

Sun Wave's purchase followed an unsuccessful attempt by former Skeena Cellulose executive Dan Veniez to open both that mill and the former Skeena Cellulose mill in Terrace. And that occurred after Skeena Cellulose shut its doors in 2001 after the newly-elected provincial Liberal government refused to carry on financing it as the NDP did.

Coleman said his top officials haven't had any contact from Sun Wave for weeks, following the departure of some of its key people working on re-opening plans.

One thing Sun Wave did do was dismantle the smaller of the mills two production lines, called the 'B' mill and ship it back to China. It then sold the wood licences that came with the purchase with a large licence going to Coast Tsimshian Resources, owned by the Lax Kw’alaams band at Port Simpson on the coast and a smaller in the Hazeltons going to a company controlled by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs.

Sun Wave also received a property tax break from the City of Prince Rupert based on a re-opening schedule it filed with the city. After it assumed control of the location, it said several times it was on the verge of lining up $100 million for start up costs.

As for predictions that Sun Wave would one day re-start the mill, Coleman said he was ever hopeful.

“I think they have challenges with fibre of their own [in China] so I would think they will have to look for fibre [here],” he said.

© 2017, The Terrace Standard, B.C.