Canfor to permanently shutter sawmill near Prince George

Company cites lack of fibre as main reason for shutting down sawmill

Sawmills like this Canfor mill in Prince George continue to shut down in the face of lower demand for lumber, high stumpage prices, shrinking timber supply and, more recently, a global pandemic. | Submitted

Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP) says it will permanently shutter its Isle Pierre sawmill near Prince George later this year.

The company announced it will begin winding the mill down in the third quarter of this year.

It cited an "insufficient supply of economically viable timber" -- the result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic -- and a global contraction in demand for lumber, as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as the reasons for the decision to shut down the sawmill.

The closure will take 120 million board feet out of Canfor's production in B.C.

“Unfortunately, the ongoing economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the urgent need for Canfor to make this difficult decision,” Canfor CEO Don Kayne said in a press release.

“We know today’s announcement will have a significant impact on our employees, contractors, their families and the local communities, which we deeply regret. We will work hard to redeploy as many employees as possible to other opportunities throughout the company.”

But sawmill closures and curtailments were happening in B.C. before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the second half of 2019, 3,000 sawmill workers lost their jobs to sawmill closures and curtailments in B.C., due to a shrinkage in the annual allowable cut, high stumpage prices and falling demand and prices for lumber in the U.S.

In addition to permanently shutting down the Isle Pierre mill, Canfor's pulp division, Canfor Pulp Products Inc. (TSX:CFX), plans to  curtail production at its Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp mills for four weeks starting July 6.