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COVID-19: Three-week closure set for Northwood Pulp, Isle Pierre, Plateau, and Houston sawmills

Canfor is scaling back production in both its pulp and sawmill divisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic uncertainty.

“Our top priority is working to protect the safety and well-being of our employees,” said Canfor Pulp Chief Executive Officer Don Kayne, in a press release. “At the same time, we are responding to volatility in the marketplace and reduced fibre availability, and taking necessary steps to protect the business.”

On the pulp side, the company is postponing the planned extended spring maintenance shut down at Northwood Pulp Mill until later this year, and instead will curtail the mill for three weeks during the period the turnaround was originally scheduled to occur. This will result in a reduction of approximately 35,000 tonnes of northern bleached softwood kraft pulp production.

In addition, Canfor Pulp is reducing its planned capital expenditures for 2020 by $15 million to $25 million, representing a $78 million decrease from 2019 capital expenditures

On the sawmill side, effective March 30, Canadian lumber production will be curtailed by approximately 70 million board feet, or approximately 40 per cent, over a three-week period.

This will result in the temporary closure of the Houston and Plateau operations near Vanderhoof and Isle Pierre.

The company has also immediately reduced capital expenditures by $20 million for Canadian and U.S. operations which, when taken together with an already lower capital budget for 2020, results in a year-over-year reduction in capital spend of approximately $100 million across lumber operations compared to 2019. These reductions will be achieved through deferral of planned projects and suspension of in progress initiatives that can be paused without significant impact.

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