Chilean group visits Voyageur Panel

A group of 15 Chileans arrived in Rainy River District last week to see the Voyageur Panel OSB mill in Barwick.
Hosted by Boise Cascade, last Tuesday’s visit was an integral part of the company’s plan to build an OSB mill in Puerto Montt, Chile.
The visitors, including councillors, reeves, and seven members of the Chilean media, were brought here to tour the plant–and learn of the economic and environmental repercussions such a mill would bring to their community.
“They’re not familiar at all with [OSB] so we were glad to host a tour and let them see what may be produced in their community,” noted Doug Bartels, communication manager for Boise Cascade.
“They have little experience with managing forests and harvesting wood, and hopefully, they’ll get a sense of what that is like from their visit,” added Voyageur Panel mill manager Percy Champagne.
The information gathered during their visit here will be brought back to Puerto Montt to be evaluated by their local government. If it is approved, Boise Cascade will work in conjunction with Cascada Chile, a Chilean company, to build and run a strandboard plant there.
“The project is tentatively called ‘Madaras Condor,’” noted Bartels.
Boise already has submitted an environmental permit to go through with the project, Bartels said, which it hopes will be approved by “del Sistema Nacional de Areas Silvestres” and “la Corporacion Nacional Forestal,” Chile’s two environmental agencies.
The visit was well covered by the media, including Chile’s major television network, “Television Nacional,” Puerto Montt’s major newspaper, “El Melipulli,” as well as several others from elsewhere in the country.
“Their media was very interested in coming to Canada and finding out about a new industry about to enter their community,” said Bartels. “They were so interested, they came halfway across the world to see it.”
Bob Crawford, project manager at Voyageur Panel, said the visitors seemed impressed by the operation.
“We’re so proud of this mill,” he added. “It’s been so successful, and to see someone else learning from it is great.”
The Chilean visitors also were welcomed by the community, with the group managing to squeeze a visit to Riverview Park in Barwick into their tight schedule to receive a gift.
A welcoming committee of Jackie Champagne, Arnellda Brusven, and Heather Oltsher were on hand with all sorts of tasty preserves for their guests, courtesy of Trish and Colin Neilson of Rainy River Preserves.
Coun. Osvaldo Wistuba Vivar thanked the ladies for the gifts.
Other stops on the group’s visit included Boise Cascade’s mill in International Falls, a forestry tour, and a ride aboard the “Pride of Rainy Lake.”
The Chileans left the area last Wednesday morning to return to Puerto Montt.