Conifex to cut production at Fort St. James mill in January

Conifex CEO Ken Shields
Conifex CEO Ken Shields

Conifex Timber will temporarily reduce operating capacity at its Fort St. James sawmill starting January 1, 2019.

In a statement on its website, the company says the reduction is due primarily to log costs and current lumber market conditions.

The announcement comes after a two-week curtailment that started November 12. The company announced earlier this year that it would also curtail operations for two weeks around Christmas.

The latest reduction is expected to continue until about mid-2019, resulting in an estimated 25 per cent reduction in Conifex’s British Columbia lumber production during such period and a temporary workforce reduction of approximately 70 employees.

“Moving to a single line configuration at Fort St. James in Q1 and Q2 lowers cash production costs and helps mitigate the combined impact of fibre supply issues and low lumber prices.” said Ken Shields, Chair and CEO. “This is a difficult decision but we believe it’s the best option for ongoing sustainability at Fort St James given current market conditions. We will be seeking to mitigate the impacts on our employees as much as possible.”

Conifex expects that a majority of its lumber production will be sourced from the lower cost U.S. South supply region in the first half of 2019.