Mill undergoing four-week shutdown

Canfor closing other mills as well

Canfor has closed its mill here again, citing continuing poor markets and the high cost of fibre.

The closure this time went into effect Monday, June 17 and is to last four weeks until July 26.

With the exception of a specialty plant at Creston in the Kootenays producing boards for furniture, siding and other products, all of Canfor’s mills across B.C. are closing for at least two weeks.

The Plateau mill at Vanderhoof joins the one here in being closed for four weeks while Canfor’s Mackenzie mill is closing for six weeks.

“The curtailments will reduce Canfor’s production output by approximately 200 million board feet,” the company stated in a June 10 release. Its annual production capacity is 3.8 billion board feet.

This latest round of closures follows the announcement the company is shutting its Vavenby mill north of Kamloops permanently and selling its timber tenure in that area to Interfor.

With Vavenby closing for good, the company will have 12 mills in B.C.

The company also announced a temporary shut down of its bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp mill in Taylor in northeastern B.C.

The June 29 to Aug. 5 closure is “due to a combination of weaker market conditions and short-term fibre constraints resulting from industry-wide sawmill curtailments in the BC Interior,” the company stated.

Canfor Pulp has three northern bleached softwood kraft pulp mills, the one in Taylor and one kraft paper mill in BC.

The dimension lumber mill closures here and elsewhere are the fifth ones enacted by Canfor since last fall.

The last closure was from April 29 to May 3 and affected all of the company’s dimension lumber mills with two being closed an additional week.

Canfor employs approximately 385 workers in the community, including its woodlands operations.

It had also been cutting back on log deliveries from contractors.

Care and maintenance of the mill’s facilities will continue.

Employees went through a closure last November, an extended Christmas closure at the end of 2018 and were off the job again for a week in February.

The Houston facility has been owned by Canfor since 1999 and after an extensive expansion program, was unveiled in 2004 as the world’s largest sawmill with an annual production capacity of 600 million board feet of dimension lumber.

Meanwhile, John Rustad, the BC Liberal MLA for Nechako Lakes, which includes Houston, has taken aim at the provincial NDP government.

“John Horgan and the NDP have made us the last place a company would want to invest in, under their watch, as B.C. has become the jurisdiction with the highest production costs in North America,” said Rustad in a release.

“The fact that Canfor is not announcing similar reductions to any of its operations elsewhere in Canada or the U.S. just goes to show B.C. is no longer competitive under the NDP.”

In the past, Canfor has also cited log shortages, decreased annual allowable cuts, increased competition for fibre and the effects of past wildfire seasons as contributing factors to its closures.

Industry observers are also waiting for the NDP to announce interior stumpage rates which are to come into effect July 1.

In the past, Canfor has also cited log shortages, decreased annual allowable cuts, increased competition for fibre and the effects of past wildfire seasons as contributing factors to its closures.

There are many predictions stumpage rates, the money paid by companies to the province in return for logging trees, will be raised as of that date, further placing cost pressures on the provincial forest industry.

Money raised through stumpage goes into general provincial revenue for services such as education and health care.

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