Hammond Cedar sawmill, a fixture of the B.C. coastal lumber industry since 1908, is closing as part of a reorganization of Interfor Corp’s coastal operations.
The current Maple Ridge sawmill was built in 1963, and has been down to a single shift for some time as cedar producers have been “disproportionately impacted” by the latest round of U.S. softwood lumber duties, Interfor CEO Duncan Davies said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
The closure is to take effect before the end of 2019, after current inventory of logs and lumber are processed and shipped.
“We recognize the impact this decision will have on our employees who have contributed so much to the business over the years,” Davies said. “We will be working closely with them to mitigate the impacts of the closure and to identify job opportunities at other Interfor mills as well as outside the company.”
The reorganization includes efforts to increase log supply to Interfor’s last B.C. coast sawmill, Acorn in Delta, which cuts hemlock and Douglas fir mainly for the Japanese housing market, said Ric Slaco, Interfor’s vice president and chief forester.
Selling the Hammond site on the bank of the Fraser River is part of the plan to improve the company’s financial situation, as the B.C. industry struggles with log shortages, high costs and the imposition of duties of about 20 per cent on U.S. lumber exports.
The B.C. government’s latest forestry changes include banning the export of cedar and cypress logs, as well as changes to log export limits from Crown land. Interfor will focus on selling cedar logs domestically rather than milling, Slaco said.