Prince George, B.C.- Conifex has  made its decision, and the El Dorado  sawmill  in the Southern US will  be upgraded first.

Conifex  had been assessing both its idled Mackenzie Site One sawmill and its  recently purchased  El Dorado facility in Arkansas as to  which facility would be at the  top of the priority list  for upgrades.

“We are doing the US  first and Mackenzie second  but it is not  because of any  local dissatisfaction” says  Conifex CEO and President  Ken Shields, it  has more to do with  plain dollars and cents.

Shields says while the two projects are “pretty similar”  there  is one  striking difference, and that is  the  selling price of the product .  “It costs roughly the same to produce a thousand board feet in  B.C. as it does in the Southern U.S.” says Shields,  “But the selling price is $400 dollars in the U.S. and $270 dollars in B.C.”

Timber supply  is not  an issue  as the Mackenzie  fibre supply is healthy,   but Shields says the uncertainty over  what will be  in the renegotiated softwood lumber agreement is another factor that tipped the scales in favour of  upgrading the El Dorado facility first.

Shields says upgrading the Mackenzie Site 1 mill   will still happen,  it just  won’t  be the first on the  capital plan list.  “So with the  huge  spurt  in prices in the US and  our Canadian Prices haven’t kept pace because China has been weak”.  He says  the decison to  go with  El Dorado  first,  is  “more based on factors that are outside the control of British Columbians, in the sense the prices  are better in the US and there’s no uncertainty due to the Softwood lumber agreement.”