2010-11-07

Canada's Mills Lumber Back to Life, Fueled by Chinese

Timber giants, squeezed by the twin tongs of a U.S. housing slump and a global recession, are starting to stir again in Canada's north woods thanks to insatiable demand from China.

Here in the Lodgepole pine forest 370 miles from the U.S.-Canada border, workers at one mill move 40,000 logs a day through an assembly line, producing 13-foot-long studs for the Chinese construction industry. Most of the wood will be used to build scaffolding or the forms that concrete is poured into. But the mill's owner, Canfor Forest Products Inc., hopes to be able to export other products, too.

In the meantime, the loggers are grateful for the Chinese demand. The Lodgepole stands were infested with the mountain pine beetle over the past decade, and the voracious bugs killed off trees across millions of acres, leaving the timber prone to splintering. The combination of the bugs' raging appetites and Chinese builders' prodigious output means that producers here will export every log they can process.