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Canfor, Interfor announce temporary curtailments at its B.C. lumber mills

Companies cite low lumber prices, high log costs as reasons why production is being curtailed.
Companies cite low lumber prices, high log costs as reasons why production is being curtailed. The Canadian Press

Two major lumber companies in B.C. announced this week they will be temporarily trimming shifts this spring, citing low prices and high costs.

On Wednesday, Canfor said it will be temporarily curtailing operations at its B.C. sawmills, effective April 29. Then on Thursday, Interfor said it will be reducing operations at its three B.C. interior mills in May.

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Canfor blamed its curtailment on “low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre.” The company said the curtailment will reduce Canfor’s production output by approximately 100 million board feet.

Canfor has 13 sawmills in Canada, with 12 in British Columbia, with most of those in the northern half of the province. The other sawmill is in Alberta.

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The affected mills will undergo a one-week closure, with two more shutting down for a second week in May. Notably, reports state one mill near Creston won’t be affected by the shutdown.

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Canfor says it annually produces 3.8 billion board feet of lumber.

Meanwhile, Interfor said it will “temporarily reduce production across its operating platform in the B.C. Interior during the month of May 2019 due to a combination of weak lumber prices and continuing high log costs.”

Interfor’s B.C. Interior sawmills are located in Chase, Castlegar and Grand Forks. Those three mills, according to Interfor, produce 750 million board feet of lumber a year.

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Interfor says its curtailments via “reduced operating days” should trim regional production by approximately 20 million board feet for the month.

In January, two other lumber companies announced curtailments.

West Fraser announced that it would be curtailing production at three B.C. sawmills: Chasm, 100 Mile House and Chetwynd in the first quarter of 2019. The expected reduction would total 50 million board feet.

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In a press release, West Fraser said “the decision to temporarily reduce production at Chasm, 100 Mile House, and Chetwynd is a result of price declines in lumber markets, high log costs and log supply constraints.”

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Also, Conifex said it would be curtailing operations at its Fort St. James sawmill for three weeks commencing Feb. 4 “due primarily to continued high log costs and lumber market conditions.”