|Western Forest Products Announces Sawmill Restructuring
|Duncan, British Columbia, Canada, 14 November 2006 -- Western Forest Products Inc.(TSX: WEF)today announced that following an internal evaluation of its sawmills after the acquisition of Cascadia on 01 May 2006, it has decided to close its New Westminster sawmill effective 07 February 2007.
At about the same time, the company will re-open its Saltair sawmill on Vancouver Island, which has been on indefinite shut-down since October 2005. The announcement follows the receipt by the company today of certain third party agreements. The recent softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the United States had no bearing on this decision.
Reynold Hert, president and CEO stated, "The decision to close the New Westminster sawmill will allow us to remove the excess capacity in mills that handle the small-to-mid-size logs and capitalize on the Saltair sawmill's lower unit costs, additional sorting, and longer lumber-length capabilities."
The New Westminster sawmill, located on the Fraser River near Vancouver, produces an assortment of lumber products of mixed species for the Asian and North American markets, and has capacity to produce approximately 150 million board feet of lumber per annum.
Severance and other closure costs are estimated in the range of CAD 16 million to CAD 21 million. The New Westminster employees will receive their full benefits under the collective agreement. Because the New Westminster sawmill was owned by Cascadia, the closure costs will be accrued as part of the cost to acquire Cascadia and not as a restructuring charge to Western's statement of operations.
The New Westminster lumber programs will be produced at the Saltair sawmill once it re-opens, which is expected to be around the beginning of February 2007. The Saltair sawmill, which is also a small-to-mid-size log sawmill, has an annual capacity of 215 million board feet.
An initial investment of about CAD 2 million in optimizing equipment will be made before start up of the Saltair facility. The Saltair sawmill is expected to initially operate on two shifts with 136 hourly employees. The number of hourly employees affected at New Westminster is 284. As a result, the net reduction in hourly employment as New Westminster shuts down and Saltair starts up will be 148. As many New Westminster employees as possible will have the opportunity to move to other Western Forest Products operations.
Western Forest Products
Western is an integrated Canadian forest products company and the largest coastal British Columbia woodland operator and lumber producer. It has an annual allowable cut of approximately 7.7 million cubic meters (before temporary AAC reductions) of timber and lumber capacity in excess of 1.5 billion board feet from nine sawmills and five remanufacturing plants.
Principal activities conducted by the company and its subsidiaries include timber harvesting, reforestation, sawmilling logs into lumber and wood chips, and value-added remanufacturing. Substantially all of Western's logging is conducted on government-owned timberlands in British Columbia. All of Western's operations, employees, and corporate facilities are located in the coastal region of British Columbia. Its products are sold in more than 20 countries worldwide.