Conifex announced they will be temporarily curtailing their operations at their Fort St. James Mill for at least four weeks starting Monday (Nov. 12).
“We have made the difficult decision to temporarily curtail our Fort St. James sawmill in Q4 due to the combined impact of increasing log costs, deteriorating log quality as the availability of commercially viable mountain pine beetle timber reaches an end, falling lumber prices, and punitive lumber export duty impositions,” says Ken Shields, Conifex’s Chair and CEO in a recent press release.
According to Sandy Ferguson, VP of Corporate Affairs and Business Development with the company, recent labour issues are not a factor in the decision to halt operations.
She told BlackPress on a phone interview that between 180 and 200 employees are affected by the decision.
“We’re working on a priority basis to position the plant for long term sustainability,” she said when asked about what the future holds, “So we’ll be doing some additional evaluation work during the period.”
In the meantime, employees do have the option to apply for employment insurance while the curtailment is underway.
“Typically it’s a five day work waiting period,” Ferguson says, “Although some of our employees will already have the record of employment , which is what you have to file.
“We had the mill closure relating to the fire alert that was in Fort St. James in the summer time, so some of them already have their documentation set up, while others will need to file.”
Tolko recently curtailed operations at their Quesnel Quest Wood sawmill this October for similar reasons in what is becoming a concerning trend in the regional forestry industry.