Skeena Sawmills in Terrace is cutting production due to the high cost of logging and log shortages.

Lionel Chabot, the plant manager at Skeena Sawmills, told employees Oct. 24 that the company is dealing with the highest fibre costs he has seen in his career and that it’s getting difficult to forecast operational plans.

“In reality, what this means is the mill will be operational 50 per cent of the time going forward from now, and into the New Year,” Chabot wrote in advising employees to register for employment insurance to cover the off weeks.

“Not the greatest of news, but I’ll keep everyone updated as best as possible as we move forward.”

Rick Nelson, the first vice-president with the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-1937 that represents workers at the mill, isn’t yet sure how many workers will be affected.

There were 138 employees on the union’s seniority list as of last November and Nelson confirmed the notice to employees is consistent with what the company told him over the phone.

“There are, from time to time, layoffs due to different reasons, whether it’s the weather conditions in logging or log supply and manufacturing, it’s not uncommon to have curtailments in mills,” Nelson said.

“We are experiencing similar circumstances on Vancouver Island as well, there are log supply issues throughout the industry for various reasons.”

The last day for the mill and its planer is today with plans to re-open Nov. 14 based on log delivery expectations. Production is to then resume until Nov. 24 followed by another closure until Dec. 5.

Thereafter the mill will run until Dec. 9 at which point it will close until after Christmas.

The planer should be able to run until Dec. 16 or Dec. 23, depending on inventory.

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