Canfor re-opened its mill here June 8, ending a lengthy shutdown which began in March due to declining lumber markets and an economic downturn driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operations resume four days a week, Monday to Thursday, the same schedule the mill had been operating on for months.
That four-day schedule reflected Canfor’s ongoing challenge of high logging costs, a diminished lumber market and American softwood tariffs.
Setting that schedule has also been accompanied by temporary shutdowns beginning in late 2018 but none were as lengthy as the one now ending.
Also re-opened as of June 8 is Canfor’s Polar mill at Bear Lake north of Prince George.
The company’s Plateau mill, west of Vanderhoof, which was also closed has also re-opened as has its Isle Pierre mill east of Vanderhoof.
But that mill re-opened to clear out its log inventory because Canfor is closing it permanently later this year, citing a uneconomic log supply brought on by the pine beetle infestation.
While the company is re-opening its sawmills, it is closing operations at Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp, for approximately four weeks starting July 6.
The Houston and Polar re-openings follow the June 1 announcement Canfor completed the acquisition of Elliott Lake Sawmilling in Estill, South Carolina for (US)$110 million, adding more than 210 million board feet of production capacity.
This purchase dates back to a Nov. 2018 agreement through which Canfor acquired 49 per cent last May and now the remaining 51 per cent.
“With Elliott, we have 15 sawmill facilities in the United States,” said Canfor official Michelle Ward of the acquisition.
“Several of our facilities in the US were operating at less than full capacity for several weeks with variable operating schedules and downtime,” she added.
Canfor further diversified its holdings by reaching overseas in November 2018 to buy 70 per cent of Vida, a Swedish sawmill company, for (CDN) $580 million.