Interfor to shutter Maple Ridge sawmill

Interfor plans to permanently close its Hammond sawmill in Maple Ridge

A shortage of logs and high stumpage prices blamed for sawmill closures.

Most of the sawmill closures and curtailments in B.C. in recent months have been in the B.C. interior, but now the rationalization has spread to the coastal sector as well.

Interfor (TSX:IFP) announced today, September 3, that it will permanently close its Hammond sawmill in Maple ridge.

"We recognize the impact this decision will have on our employees who have contributed so much to the business over the years," said Interfor CEO Duncan Davies in a news release. "We will be working closely with them to mitigate the impacts of the closure and identify job opportunities at Interfor mills as well as outside the company."

Companies that have announced sawmill closures in B.C.'s interior have cited log prices and shortages for the curtailments and closures -- the result of the Mountain pine beetle epidemic and fires.

But some coastal operators have also cited problems with log supplies as well.

"The coastal B.C, forest industry has faced significant log supply challenges over the past two decades and manufacturing needs to be brought into line with available log supply," Davies said.

Other recent closures and curtailments in B.C. include:

•Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP), permanently shutting down its sawmill in Vavenby;

•Tolko Industries, permanently shutting down its Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel and eliminating one shift at its mill in Kelowna;

•West Fraser Timber Co. (TSX:WFT), permanently shuttering its Chasm lumber mill near Clinton and 100 Mile House and eliminating the third shift from its 100 Mile House mill;

•Norbord Inc. (TSX,NYSE:OSB), indefinitely curtailing production at its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House.

nbennett@biv.com