Hampton Affiliates hopes to restart planer at Babine Forest Products in March, April, to process sawmill's remaining log inventory, expects to run one shift with up to 20 workers for a month

BURNS LAKE, British Columbia , February 29, 2012 () – Steve Zika, Hampton Affiliates chief economic officer is still optimistic that the Babine Forest Products sawmill will be rebuilt.

Zika said the investigation is continuing into the cause of the Jan. 20, 2012 explosion and fire, but said no more news has come to the company from WorkSafe B.C.

Zika said Hampton Affiliates hope to have the planer up and running in either March or April 2012 to process the remaining log inventory at the sawmill.

"It is not a certainty that this will happen, but this is what we are working towards." Zika said, adding that the start up of the planer mill depends on power supply to the equipment and an assessment of any potential damage to the equipment.

"It would likely be one shift coming back to work .... about 15 to 20 people for about a month," Zika added.

He said the sawmill is off limits to Hampton Affiliates as the investigation continues but said the company does have access to the office.

He said 43 local salaried staff remain working, all of which are in the woods department, office staff and management.

"We are planning to reduce this number somewhat, but the majority of people will be kept on payroll under the assumption that Babine Forest Products will reopen," he added.

Scott McCloy director of communications from WorkSafe BC said that there is no updates to be provided, other than the investigation is continuing at the site.

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