Pulp mill closures hurting sawmills, woodlots
There were signs Tuesday that the crisis in the province's pulp mill industry is beginning to affect sawmills and private woodlot owners.
Taylor Lumber Company Ltd., a Middle Musquodoboit company employing more than 100 people, has said it is not buying any more wood until it can find a buyer for the wood chips that are piling up since New Page closed and Northern Pulp was shut down for maintenance.
"The pulp mills that we sell our chips to are a major log supplier for us as well. If they go down that affects our log supply," said owner Robert Taylor.
Lumber is getting a lower price than it did a decade ago, making companies more dependent on paper mills.
Woodchips and other byproducts are being stockpiled because no paper mill is buying. Northern Pulp in Ambercrombie is no longer accepting deliveries, NewPage Port Hawkesbury is closed and in the next two weeks Bowater Mersey in Liverpool will be shut down.
Northern Pulp plans to resume buying next week. It has completed a refit.
Taylor Lumber laid off two harvesters employed by private woodlot owners for two weeks each.
Another Middle Musquodoboit company, Conform Limited, has slowed down operations.
"We didn't want to continue piling up wood and then have to shut off operations because of high inventory," said Keith Ellwood, a Conform manager.
Ledwidge Lumber in Enfield has started selling some of its woodchips to Irving, a new buyer for the company.
"We need to get revenue from every product we produce. That's a concern if you lose a customer. So far we've made it work," said Cassie Turple, Ledwidge's spokesperson.
Taylor Lumber has begun recycling its sawdust from sawmilling to produce all the electricity to run its operation, selling surplus to Nova Scotia Power.
But Taylor said he fears the worst if the paper mills don't survive.
"If there's no market for that pulpwood, even though pulpwood is not my main market, this mill will suffer for sure."