Interfor to idle sawmill in Grand Forks, British Columbia, for three weeks this month to complete upgrades in December, ahead of schedule; improvements at Castlegar mill to be completed in January

LOS ANGELES , November 6, 2012 () –

International Forest Products Inc.’s (Interfor) sawmill in Grand Forks, British Columbia, will be idled for three weeks in November in order to complete upgrades that are ahead of schedule, said the company’s chief, reported The Castlegar Sources on Nov. 5.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based forest products company’s Grand Forks sawmill should reopen in early December. Another capital project at Interfor’s sawmill in Castlegar, British Columbia, is slated for completion in January.

The investment in the two former Pope & Talbot Ltd. sawmills in British Columbia’s interior has been worthwhile for Interfor, especially with the returns now being realized, said Duncan Davies, Interfor’s president and CEO, The Castlegar Source reported.

In addition to devoting considerable attention to the capital projects, Davies is traveling to China with a trade mission this month. China and Japan are important strategic markets for Interfor, and demand in those countries improved in recent weeks, said Davies.

However, increased demand in North America--especially after Hurricane Sandy--has caused Interfor to divert some of its product from offshore markets, reported The Castlegar Source.

Uncertainty continues about the longer-term forecast for U.S. housing, despite more recent positive signs. In addition, Canadian housing starts are expected to decline for the rest of 2012, and export taxes will increase to 10% in November from 5% in October.

At Interfor, total output is up 12%, said Davies. In the third quarter, the company’s lumber production was the highest ever at 350 million board feet (mmbf), up 17 mmbf from the prior quarter, according to the company’s third-quarter results, The Castlegar Source reported.

In 2011, linear high graders were installed at the Castlegar and Grand Forks sawmills to improve timber value. Investments at the Grand Forks sawmill over the past two years have totaled C$27 million, while about C$5 million was spent at the Castlegar sawmill.

The improvements at Grand Forks were aimed at reducing costs, improving timber recovery, and increasing product flexibility. At Castlegar, scanning systems were upgraded and lumber recovery was improved, reported The Castlegar Source.

The primary source of this article is The Castlegar Source, Castlegar, British Columbia, on Nov. 5, 2012.

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