Forestry workers are back on the job after a week-long production curtailment affecting Canfor-owned sawmills across B.C., including Elko.
The Vancouver-based company announced the temporary shutdown on April 24, with mills closing five days later and resuming operations on Monday, May 6.
The curtailment comes amid low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre, and impacted 153 hourly employees in Elko.
“We regret the impact the curtailments will have on our employees, their families and their communities,” said Canfor Director of Corporate Communications Michelle Ward in a statement to The Free Press.
“We appreciate the hard work of our employees and contractors across all of our operations.”
Canfor has 13 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.8 billion board feet (a unit of volume for timber equal to 144 cubic inches).
The curtailment reduced the Canfor’s production output by approximately 100 million board feet.
Ward said all of the company’s B.C. mills were curtailed last week with the exception of Wynnwood near Creston.
The Isle Pierre and Mackenzie mills are being curtailed for a second week in May.
United Steelworkers Local 1-405 President Doug Singer said he was not aware of any further curtailments at the Elko mill at this time.
“Virtually every company in the interior of B.C. is taking some down time to reduce the amount of lumber on the market as sales are still down,” he said in an email, Monday.
On May 1, Canfor reported an operating loss of $70 million for the first quarter of 2019, with an adjusted operating income of $5 million.
Canfor’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Don Kayne, acknowledged the “significant challenges” facing its B.C.-based lumber business due to lower than anticipated market prices and difficult operating conditions.
However, other markets are generating solid financial returns.
“We look forward to adding a further 200 million board feet to our U.S. South operations during the second quarter with the upcoming close of the Elliott acquisition, which will help offset the escalating log cost and fibre supply issues impacting our B.C. operations,” said Kayne in a press release.