Interfor Corp., a Canada-based company that owns a lumber mill on Third Avenue in Longview, announced this week that it will reduce lumber production at three of its mills in British Columbia next month due to a combination of weak lumber prices and continuing high log costs.
The curtailment is expected to reduce lumber production in the region by 20 million board feet and will be accomplished by reducing operating days at each of the three mills. The reduction is about 2.7 percent of those mills’ annual capacity and a fraction of the company’s 3.1 billion board foot annual capacity, according to Interfor, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The company has not announced whether a curtailment is slated for its Longview mill.
After hitting record highs early last year, lumber prices have fallen sharply. According to Random Lengths, green two-by-fours were selling for $295 a thousand board feet last week, down from $530 per thousand a year earlier. It’s estimated composite price for all sorts of framing lumber dropped to $350 per thousand board feet, down from nearly $500 a year ago.
Meanwhile, prices of Douglas fir logs eased a bit in recent months, but they’ve been surging since the late fall of 2016, reaching their highest level in more than a decade last summer, according to Forest2Market, a forest product analysis group.
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Interfor purchased the Longview plant from Simpson Lumber Co. in 2015 as part of a $94.7 million deal that included acquisition of Simpson sawmills in Tacoma, as well as in Georgia and South Carolina.
The deal made Interfor’s the fourth-largest lumber company in the world, according to the company.
“From a customer perspective, it brings more choice and more supply. It also brings a whole bunch more expertise and experience (to Interfor),” said Interfor spokeswoman Karen Brandt. “Simpson is a great company with long history, so from an operating standpoint, it’s great.”
Brandt said Interfor is “very impressed” with the efficiency and productivity of the Longview facility. The mill produces 180 million board feet annually, enough to frame about 11,000 three-bedroom homes. It specializes in green Douglas firs.
Interfor also announced plans to open a new Pacific Northwest regional office at Simpson’s former Commencement Bay location.