Babine Forest Products extends January shutdown at Burns Lake, B.C., sawmill and planer mill through February

BURNS LAKE, B.C. , February 4, 2009 () – When mill workers returned to work at Babine Forest Products after a planned two week shutdown at Christmas, management informed them that they would also be shutting down for the last two weeks of January.

Manager of Babine Forest Products (BFP) Dave Garcia now says the curtailment at the Burns Lake operation of the sawmill and planer mill, which began in the last two weeks of January will be extended through the month of February. And as long as lumber prices remain at these all time lows, it will be a week to week assessment as to when the operation will start up again.

“What we’ve recently announced to out employees is that we are going to extend the curtailment at Babine for the month of February. And it’s in reaction to record low lumber prices and demand for lumber in the North American market,” he said.

“This doesn’t affect our long term plans for the Babine operation,” Garcia stressed. “We are continuing to bring logs into the log yard to build up our break-up inventory. Nothing changes with that. And at this point we feel that the log yard will probably be open for the month of February,” he said. “We’re still juggling around what February is going to look like, and it may end up that we have to shut down the log yard for a week, but at this point the log yard will be accepting logs through the course of February.”

Garcia added that there also would be some log drying in the kilns for scaling purposes but the planer mill and sawmill would not be working. He noted that although lumber prices are at a record low they are hoping to see some improvement before to long. “We feel that hopefully in the later parts of 2009, in the last half of the year that we’ll start to see some stability and recovery. But until then we’re just going to work hard at keeping our costs down at the operation and that’s about all we can do for the present,” he said. “Lumber prices are forecasted to be strong by 2011. The economy just needs to settle down and get going.”

Garcia said their other operation, Decker Lake Forest Products would continue to run on a one shift basis, putting out specialty products such as timbers, inch and a quarter decking, and four by fours.

As for the shutdowns at BFP in February, Garcia said they empathize with the employees.

“Like always, we regret the hardships to our employees, and the contractors, and the community; but really for the betterment of the long term, this is the move we have to make now. And it’s pretty well being echoed throughout the industry with other mills and other towns also announcing curtailments,” he concluded.

The shutdown will effect 165 BFP employees.

“We feel that hopefully in the later parts of 2009, in the last half of the year that we’ll start to see some stability and recovery. But until then we’re just going to work hard at keeping our costs down at the operation and that’s about all we can do for the present,” he said. “Lumber prices are forecasted to be strong by 2011. The economy just needs to settle down and get going.”

Garcia said their other operation, Decker Lake Forest Products would continue to run on a one shift basis, putting out specialty products such as timbers, inch and a quarter decking, and four by fours.

As for the shutdowns at BFP in February, Garcia said they empathize with the employees.

“Like always, we regret the hardships to our employees, and the contractors, and the community; but really for the betterment of the long term, this is the move we have to make now. And it’s pretty well being echoed throughout the industry with other mills and other towns also announcing curtailments,” he concluded.

The shutdown will affect 165 BFP employees.

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