Mill back in full production following fire repairs

Pathway cleared for April shutdown

Canfor sign

The Canfor mill went back into full production Feb. 6 following repairs made to a fire which damaged a key part of the operation in the early morning hours of Jan. 22.

Damage to the computer room which controls the operation of the trimmer saws kept the mill from a full re-opening on Jan. 23 following an extended five week closure.

“The trimmer is important to optimize the cutting of each log,” explained Canfor official Michelle Ward of the importance of getting as much value as possible from each log that runs through the mill.

Members of the Houston Volunteer Fire Department spent five hours fighting the fire.

The full re-opening the mill now means Canfor can keep to its schedule of running until April and then closing down, affecting nearly 350 direct employees as well as those who cut and deliver logs and those who provide services.

The company cited weak markets combined with high operating costs as reasons for closing.

The company is calling the closure temporary but adds that while it wants to replace its mill with one it says will be more efficient and able to run through ups and downs in the market for lumber, that decision will not be made until June.

And if a replacement decision is made, a new facility won’t be ready for at least two years.

Ward said Canfor is looking at ways to reduce the impact of any closure.

“Selling logs to other companies is an option we will be exploring in an effort to keep our contractors working while the Houston facility is down,” said Ward of the wood under licence to Canfor.

“We believe in the long-term fibre supply here. We will be maintaining our wood license and we’re developing plans for our woodlands activities through the closure. It’s important to us that we support our contractor base for the long-term and we’re looking at how we can maintain some activity through the transition.”

Ward said Canfor has been trying to decide what to do with its mill here for the past decade.

“Ultimately, we determined that no level of investment in the current aging facility would make it competitive for the long term, and that a major investment to rebuild a new mill is required to ensure its success for the next several decades,” she said.

“The investment we envision would be one of the largest investments in a forest products manufacturing facility in the Interior of British Columbia in the last two decades.”

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