BRITISH COLUMBIA - Canadian lumber giant Canfor will permanently close its Isle Pierre sawmill in British Columbia. 
 
The closure, which is scheduled for third quarter 2020, is prompted by an insufficient supply of viable timber caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic the company says, as well as economic conditions created by COVID-19.
 
“Unfortunately, the ongoing economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the urgent need for Canfor to make this difficult decision,” said Don Kayne, president and CEO. “We know today’s announcement will have a significant impact on our employees, contractors, their families and the local communities, which we deeply regret. We will work hard to redeploy as many employees as possible to other opportunities throughout the company.”
 
The mill currently outputs around 120 million boardfeet of lumber annually.
 
Canfor really has been struggling as of late, reporting an operating loss of $88.8 million in the first quarter, as well as a $59.6 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2019.
 
Canfor said the COVID-19 outbreak and “ongoing pressure anticipated on U.S. housing starts,” played significant roles in the company’s first quarter operating loss results which included a $63 million inventory write-down of its lumber operating segment. Canfor noted that “(T)he moderate up-tick in lumber market fundamentals and favorable macroeconomic conditions experienced at the end of 2019, particularly in North American home construction activity and the repair and remodeling sector, continued through the first part of the current quarter. Global lumber market conditions weakened, however, in late February and March as the effects of COVID-19 spread globally.”
 

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