Conifex Mackenzie sawmill to resume operation

Lumber producer Conifex says it will resume operating its Mackenzie sawmill on July 6, ending a three-month curtailment.

The sawmill will run on a two-shift, five day per week basis, the company said in an update issued Thursday.

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The sawmill has been on curtailment since April 6, affecting about 160 workers. Conifex's bioenergy operation continued to run.

"It was always our plan to restart," corporate services vice president Kristen Gammel said in an interview. "Lumber prices are starting to get better, the housing starts for the U.S. are projected to get better, all of that is starting to align for us."

The company's summer logging program is also starting up, Gammel also noted.

The price of kiln-dried western spruce-pine-fir two-by-fours graded #2 and better stood at US$436 per thousand board feet, a jump of $42 from the week before, according to Madison's Lumber Reporter.

The development comes as a glimmer of good news for the community of 3,700 people 186 kilometres north of Prince George.

It has been hard hit by indefinite curtailments at the Canfor sawmill and the Paper Excellence pulp mill. Including the Conifex curtailment, nearly 650 workers have been affected.

Gammel said Conifex is continuing to work with other stakeholders involved in the Mackenzie timber supply area coalition appointed by the provincial government to recommend changes to the way the industry works in that region.

"Everybody wants to see Mackenzie thrive," Gammel said.

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