160 jobs lost as B.C. mill announces indefinite closure

Workers and production will be shut down by August

Norbord Inc. will be indefinitely stopping all production at its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House starting in August.

The company’s 100 Mile House location has been under mounting wood supply pressure for the past decade as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

According to the news release, this challenge has been more recently exacerbated by the significant wildfires that the province of British Columbia experienced in the summers of both 2017 – 18.

The resulting wood supply shortage and high wood prices have not been supporting the economic operation of the mill at this time.

Mayor Mitch Campsall told the Free Press, this curtailment is going to “cripple” the community.

“It’s a surprise,” said Campsall. “Especially when they’ve had record breaking profits in the last year and a quarter according to them. Again, throughout the Cariboo, we’re looking at curtailments. It’s going to be really harsh for us, small businesses are going to get hurt, really badly.”

The 100 Mile House mill has a stated annual production capacity of 440 million square feet (3/8-inch basis). Roughly 160 employees from the 100 Mile location will be impacted by this curtailment.

“This is devastating,” said MLA Donna Barnett, in regards to the news release. “It’s 160 (employees) direct and probably (more) when you take all the indirect – the loggers, the machine operators, the trucks that haul the logs, the fuel companies, the restaurants, the grocery stores, the schools.”

According to the release, the company will continue to supply its current customers and meet expected future customer demand with production from its 11 other operating North American OSB mills, including High Level and Grande Prairie, Alberta.

“This is a difficult decision in response to extraordinary circumstances,” said Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s president & CEO in a news release. “We have a first-rate team in 100 Mile House and this curtailment is in no way a reflection on our employees, their commitment to our customers and suppliers or the local community.”

Campsall said the Cariboo Region is working together in the event of trying to meet the premier.

“Let’s see what our issues are and how we can resolve some of the issues,” said Campsall. “Because this is an absolute drastic outcome for our community and it’s going to be crippling to 100 mile and businesses. Not just small business – all business – and the families.”

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