Conifex sawmill in Fort St. James. (Conifex)

UPDATE: Fort St. James sawmill to reduce production in Q1 and Q2 2019

Cuts will affect around 70 employees

Conifex’ Fort St. James sawmill will be temporarily reducing its production from Jan. 1, 2019, according to a press release issued Nov. 30.

The Northern B.C. mill cites log costs and market conditions for the production cuts, which will affect around 70 employees in Fort St. James.

Sandy Ferguson, Conifex’s vice-president of corporate affairs and business development, said via email: “The Collective Agreement has very specific provisions to deal with temporary reductions. We have also established a Transition Committee comprised of union and management to look at all options for affected employees.”

The reduction in operations will last until around mid-2019, according to the news release, and will result in an estimated 25 per cent reduction in Conifex’ B.C. lumber production.

“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, in the news release.

“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’s Fort St. James operations were shut down for two weeks commencing Nov. 5, after the company announced a temporary curtailment affecting between 180 and 200 workers. The mill is now currently running, with a second two-week curtailment scheduled to begin Dec. 17.

READ MORE: Conifex announces a temporary curtailment in operations at Fort St. James mill

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

The company has sawmills in Arkansas and Florida, as well as its Fort St. James and Mackenzie, B.C. operations.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Fort St. James mill is currently shut down. It is currently running at full production levels. It also stated the company has mills in Arizona. The USA locations are in fact in Arkansas and Florida.



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