More hard times coming for B.C. sawmills: expert

B.C. lumber companies can look forward to another 18 months of curtailments and shutdowns before the U.S. housing slump is over, a leading wood products researcher forecast today.

Russ Taylor, president of International Wood Products Group Inc., said the U.S. housing slump is now impacting the entire world and all major lumber markets are heading into over-supply.

The housing market is unlikely to recover until 2009, making it a three-year-long slump. And with no relief in sight on the demand side, the alternative is to close mills, particularly in the B.C. Interior, Taylor said in an interview.

High-speed Interior mills, feeding on a diet of low-cost beetle-killed logs, have been among the last to cut back in North America. Prices are below operating costs but marginally higher than the cost of shutting down.