VANCOUVER – Western Forest Products has decided to indefinitely curtail operations at its Somass sawmill located in Port Alberni, B.C. The decision “is in response to the lack of log supply to operate the mill efficiently, as well as the uncertainty caused by duties recently applied to Canadian softwood lumber products sold into the United States,” the company said in a statement.
The Somass Sawmill has been temporarily curtailed since February 2017, prior to which it operated on a single shift basis. Western intends to offer voluntary severance to its Somass Sawmill hourly employees.
The statement also says Western is focused on reducing costs to remain competitive, and that these cost reductions will be delivered through operational consolidation. The company expects to offset lost production from Somass by increasing production at its other operations on Vancouver Island.
“We have made the announcement today to provide clarity and options for our Somass employees,” said Don Demens, president and CEO of Western. “Western is committed to creating the most competitive specialty softwood lumber manufacturing business possible. We have invested over $300 million on the coast of B.C. since 2012, including $100 million in modernizing our Vancouver Island manufacturing facilities, and we remain focused on ensuring the long-term viability of our business for the benefit of our employees, shareholders, and the communities in which we operate.”
Western is an integrated Canadian forest products company and is the largest coastal British Columbia woodland operator and lumber producer. Western has a lumber capacity in excess of 1.1 billion board feet from seven sawmills and one remanufacturing plant.