Alberta-based Millar Western operates sawmills in Whitecourt and Fox Creek, a bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp (BCTMP) mill in Whitecourt and, through the Spruceland Millworks operating division, a value-added specialty wood products facility in Acheson. Our woodlands team is responsible for supplying our mills with fibre that is sourced from sustainably managed forests located close to our mill operations. Our head office is in Edmonton.
Millar Western’s corporate head office in Edmonton houses senior management and 40 employees supporting the company’s woodlands and forest products operations through their work in finance and accounting, human resources, marketing, logistics and sales, energy, procurement, fibre resources, information systems, communications and administration.
In late 2017, Millar Western acquired Spruceland Millworks Inc. Now operating as a division of Millar Western, Spruceland is a value-added manufacturer and international distributor of high-quality SPF wood products. At its 200 million board foot per year manufacturing facility in the Acheson industrial area near Edmonton, Spruceland Millworks produces decking, fencing and other products for industrial, commercial and DIY markets in Canada, the U.S., China and the Pacific Rim, as well as 30,000 access mats per year, used for temporary roads and work platforms in the North American construction and energy sectors.
Millar Western has been active in the Whitecourt area since 1921, when it began logging and bush mill operations, progressing to the establishment in 1926 of a stationary sawmill on the site where it continues to operate today. In the 1980s, the company expanded into the pulp business with the construction of a state-of-the-art bleached-chemi-thermo mechancial pulp (BCTMP) mill on the Whitecourt site.
In 2001, the company opened a new, high-speed, high-efficiency sawmill featuring the latest in sawmilling technology, including advanced scanning and optimizing equipment for improved lumber recovery and product quality. The sawmill has undergone a series of strategic investments since start-up, resulting in significant production gains. Designed with an original capacity of 190 million board feet of SPF lumber per year, the mill today produces approximately 330 million board feet annually, reflecting the efforts of 250 dedicated employees.
The mill is certified under FORESTCARE, the Alberta industry’s code of practice governing care of the forest, environment and communities, and has been recognized by the Government of Alberta’s EnviroVista program for its long record of outstanding performance in environmental management. Whitecourt lumber has also earned certification under the PEFC™ chain-of-custody program, assuring customers of the legality of our timber procurement practices.
The Whitecourt pulp mill began production in 1988. Originally designed to produce 210,000 air-dried metric tonnes (ADMT) of BCTMP per year, the mill’s capacity today stands at 320,000 ADMT, thanks to a series of successful plant upgrades and an effective program of continuous improvement.
The mill employs an advanced biological effluent treatment system to clean process water to an exceptionally high standard before discharging it into the Athabasca River. In its many years of operation, the system has consistently exceeded all government requirements for effluent quality. In 2016, the mill will begin operation of a new bioenergy plant that will convert organics in pulp mill effluent to green energy.
The mill is certified to the ISO 9000 (ISO 9001-2008) standard for quality management, the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management, and PEFC and FSC® chain-of-custody standards. It is also certified under FORESTCARE, an Alberta industry program that promotes sustainable development, and is recognized as a Leader under the Alberta government’s EnviroVista program.
These achievements reflect the skill and hard work of the mill’s 110 employees, whose commitment to excellence is evident in every pulp bale. Millar Western has led the way in advancing BCTMP production and environmental control technology, and in expanding the use of BCTMP around the world.
Our Whitecourt woodlands operations supply our mills in both Whitecourt and Fox Creek. The woodlands team is responsible for applying sustainable forest management practices to maintain fibre supplies to the company’s manufacturing facilities while accommodating the full range of forest values and protecting long-term forest health. Our 35 woodlands staff conduct planning, consultation, road building, harvest, fire and insect response, reclamation and forest renewal activities.
In 2008, the Fox Creek sawmill was lost to a fire, but in 2010, the company announced it would rebuild the facility. A new, state-of-the-art replacement operation, with a capacity of 120 million board feet per year, started production in late 2011. The mill is certified under FORESTCARE, the Alberta industry’s code of practice governing care of the forest, environment and communities, and its lumber products have earned certification under the PEFC™ chain-of-custody program, assuring customers of the legality of our timber procurement practices.