Conifex sell­ing Fort St. James mill

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mark NIELSEN Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

Conifex Tim­ber Inc. will be sell­ing its Fort St. James sawmill and re­lated tim­ber rights to Ore­gon-based Hamp­ton Lum­ber, the com­pa­nies said in a state­ment jointly is­sued Tues­day.

The deal, worth $39 mil­lion plus the mar­ket value of fin­ished lum­ber and log in­ven­tory at clos­ing, re­mains sub­ject to ap­proval by the Min­is­ter of Forests, Lands, Nat­u­ral Re­source Oper­a­tions, and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, Hamp­ton CEO Steve Zika said the com­pany in­tends to build a new sawmill in Fort St. James.

It will be op­er­ated in part­ner­ship with area First Na­tions and com­mu­nity part­ners, “sim­i­lar to a suc­cess­ful joint ven­ture we have with the Burns Lake Na­tive De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion in the Burns Lake area,” he added.

Conifex’s ex­ist­ing Fort St. James mill was shut down on May 13. It is not ex­pected to re­sume nor­mal oper­a­tions prior to the clos­ing of the trans­ac­tion.

“We have known for some time that lum­ber in­dus­try ra­tio­nal­iza­tion is in­evitable be­cause too lit­tle sawlog sup­ply is avail­able to main­tain the ex­ist­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing base in the In­te­rior re­gion of B.C.,” Conifex chair and CEO Ken Shields said. “The de­ci­sion we have taken to sell the mill was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult; how­ever, we are en­cour­aged by Hamp­ton’s plans for the site.

“We be­lieve this trans­ac­tion sup­ports the prov­ince’s ob­jec­tives for in­dus­try ra­tio­nal­iza­tion that is mind­ful of the im­pacts on peo­ple, com­mu­ni­ties and First Na­tions.”

Conifex will use the pro­ceeds from the sale to re­tire debt and to pro­vide ad­di­tional liq­uid­ity.

Hamp­ton Lum­ber op­er­ates nine sawmills in Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton and British Columbia.

“While eco­nomic con­di­tions are ex­tremely chal­leng­ing right now for the lum­ber in­dus­try in British Columbia, we be­lieve the long-term out­look for Cana­dian lum­ber is promis­ing,” Zika said.

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