The Conifex sawmill in Fort St. James will be sold to Hampton Lumber. (Conifex)

Hampton to buy Conifex sawmill in Fort St.James

Hampton Lumber will buy the Conifex sawmill in Fort St.James and its forest license.

The lumber company, which owns the Babine and Decker Lake mills in Burns Lake, will make the purchase for about $39 million, Hampton and Conifex said in a joint press release on June 24.

“Our plan is to dismantle the existing sawmill. In relation to the existing sawmill since some of the equipment may have future value,” as Hampton CEO Steve Zika told Lakes District News.

The timeline specifics were not yet known.

“While economic conditions are extremely challenging right now for the lumber industry in British Columbia, we believe the long-term outlook for Canadian lumber is promising,” said Zika.

“We intend to build a new sawmill in Fort St. James and look forward to building relationships with local First Nations and other community partners similar to a successful joint venture we have with the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation in the Burns Lake area.”

“We will need to meet with First Nations, local government, the United Steelworkers, community stakeholders, members of the Fort St.James community and the provincial government before we finalize plans and are able to discuss them outside of that community.”

Other than the operations in Burns Lake, Hampton runs seven other mills in Oregon and Washington.

“We have known for some time that lumber industry rationalization is inevitable because too little sawlog supply is available to maintain the existing manufacturing base in the Interior region of B.C,” Ken Shields, Conifex’s Chair and CEO said.

“The decision we have taken to sell the mill was extremely difficult; however, we are encouraged by Hampton’s plans for the site. We believe this transaction supports the Province’s objectives for industry rationalization that is mindful of the impacts on people, communities and First Nations. We sincerely thank our employees, contractors, and other stakeholders for their hard work and contribution to the site over the past decade.”

As lumber industry difficulties are ongoing, Conifex does not expect to return to normal operations at the Fort St. James mill prior to the finalization of the agreement. Conifex also operates a sawmill in Mackenzie, and three in the United States.

The Fort St. James mill employs 226 people, Sandy Ferguson, Conifex’ Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Business Development said.

The closing of the deal is subject to regulatory approvals, including approval of the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development and other customary conditions.

The proceeds of the transaction will be used mainly to pay off debt and to enable more liquidity so Conifex can improve performance and value at its other locations.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vehicles waiting for the highway to reopen. (Shashank Bangera photo/Lakes District News)
Vehicle incident claims life on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake

The accident resulted in highway closure

The victim of a homicide in Houston is Pietro Adamo. (Photo courtesy the RCMP)
Man dies from injuries following assault

Investigators looking for information on this homicide

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read