After supply chain problems, community concerns and a cargo ship that was too big to dock in Goose Bay, J.P. Forestry has begun loading timber cut from the early stages of the Muskrat Falls project on a ship headed for Asia.
J.P. Forestry CEO Greg Penney said it's exciting for the company to finally have a ship in town for the wood.
"I'm just so proud to see that ship and this is just the very beginning of many, many more to come," said Penney, who said the company has had a lot of interest overseas for the wood.
"We have a huge company in England that's very, very interested in buying some fibre from us. So over the winter now, we will nail down the best opportunities for us and we will get some ships booked now for early June."
Penney hopes shipping prices, which he says have quadrupled in recent months, will be more "reasonably priced" by next spring and it will be easier for buyers to have ships retrieve their products in Goose Bay.
Trucks have been transporting wood from the site to the dock 24 hours a day and crews have been loading the ships for 16 hours a day. Penney said initial concerns about the project site in Wilburn Bay have blown over, and he expects the loadout to be finished Saturday.
This project is not the only one that J.P. Forestry has in store for the Labrador region. In addition to selling the wood cut for the Muskrat Falls project, they also have wood-cutting permits in the area. Penney says that's Phase 1 of the company's plans in Labrador but did not give any specifics about what is coming next.
"There are a number of different phases that we're looking forward to. Some of it still speculatory but we're definitely moving ahead with it. Some stuff as it happens, we'll certainly be in a position to chat a little more about it," he said.
"Let's just say we have a lot of plans for Goose Bay and area and a lot of employment opportunities for Innu and local employees. It's going to be a lot of working coming up here in the next couple of years, for sure."
Penney said they have around 45 people working on the current project, including truck drivers, log loaders and flaggers. The company has had to bring in truck drivers from Newfoundland and Quebec to keep up with the 24-hour delivery of timber to the dock.