Sexton Lumber puts mill on temporary shutdown

Government offered solution to shortage by allocating sawlogs, news release says

Ashley Fitzpatrick
Published on October 2, 2013

The Sexton Lumber Co. Ltd’s Bloomfield sawmill employs 79 workers. All of those workers will be affected as the mill shuts down for lack of logs.

The company announced the shutdown of the sawmill — the largest in the province — in a statement issued Tuesday, pointing to the shortage of feed product for the mill as the reason for bringing operations to a halt.

“The sawmill will remain closed until a sufficient log inventory is accumulated to ensure an uninterrupted start-up of the operation,” reads the statement.

The company asked the provincial government for a greater allocation of timber. It’s stated an extra 40,000 cubic metres would have been enough to keep the mill open.

“This request was denied as the timber resource is being held pending a final decision on the proposals submitted under the expressions of interest (EOI) process for the development of the timber resource formerly held by Abitibi–Bowater. There is annual volume of 280,000 cubic metres being held by the government for the EOI,” states the news release.

“This annual allocation has not been harvested since the closure of (the paper mill) in 2009.”

However, a government news release on Tuesday said that during the last month, the company did not accept options to supply additional sawlogs that were offered through Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. and the provincial government.

“The provincial government  gave the mill a $2.25-million loan in 2009 and, the Department of Natural Resources has noted, 100,000 cubic metres of additional timber.”

The sawmill’s shutdown affects more than the workers at the mill, the company notes.

It will also mean the loss of the largest feed of pulp chips to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, there will be less animal bedding for farmers and less wood for pallet manufacturers.

As reported, the Department of Natural Resources issued a second call for expressions of interest on the central timber rights in February.

The call closed in late March. To date, there has been no decision on the 14 offers received.

Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall has told The Telegram the collection of proposals for making use of the timber has been narrowed down to three possibilities.

In the government news release, Marshall said “Sexton Lumber is a major player in our forest sector. We value this operation and its contribution. Our officials continue to work with Sexton Lumber to stabilize the wood supply. Some time is needed to rebuild the sawlog inventory.”

The release also states that the government will now complete its due diligence to reach a responsible decision on the EOI of the central timber resources to maximize benefits for the entire province, though it did not say exactly when that would decision would be made.

Calls to Kevin Sexton of Sexton Lumber received no response as of press time.