Another milestone has been reached at the new Resolute Forest Products sawmill at Sapawe, as the first board was dressed, trimmed and graded in the planing mill on April 4.

“The new planer is going to do a wonderful job dressing our lumber,” said Richard Blanchette, planer superintendent. “We are still working the bugs out, but it was an exciting moment to have the first boards produced last week.”

Head planerman Dan Douglass is thrilled with the new planer. “In all my years in different mills, this is the best planer I’ve seen,” he said.

Rough lumber is being delivered each day from the Ignace sawmill. Two dry kilns are now operating at the Sapawe site and the planer operation is progressing through its commissioning stage. The first shift of employees for the planing mill are now at work and the second shift is expected to start in early May.

“We have done a lot of training prior to the start of operations,” said Larry Gosselin, a continuous relief operator in the planer and a former employee of the Atikokan Forest Products mill. “We’re all itching to take control of the operations, but we will be sure to do it safely.”

While the kilns and planer are now running, the sawmill is still on track to begin operating in late May. Sawmill employees are in the process of being hired now and will commence their training two weeks prior to the start of operations.

“I’m very pleased with the calibre of employees we have been able to hire,” said Mark Stevens, mill manager. “We have a diverse set of skill and experience, but they are all showing their ambition and willingness to help out in any way during the commissioning phase. That is the attitude that is really going to help us achieve the full potential of this state-of-the-art mill.”