This year, the U.S. has imposed an additional 6.76 per cent duty on Canada’s smaller lumber companies. (Ezra Black/The Free Press)

Lumber prices see ‘big jump’ after wildfires in B.C.

As early as Sunday, several companies temporarily closed some of their mills as evacuation orders

The wildfires in the B.C. Interior that have forced some sawmills to halt operations have resulted in a boost in lumber prices at a time when forestry companies have been squeezed by softwood duties on exports to the U.S.

By Wednesday, the benchmark price of Western spruce-pine-fir lumber had risen by 5.5 per cent to US$400 per thousand board feet from US$379 last Friday, according to figures from Random Lengths, which tracks lumber and panel prices.

“It’s a big jump,” said Shawn Church, Random Lengths editor.

Ketan Mamtora, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, said he expects prices will rise between six and eight per cent over the next couple of weeks, partly due to a limited supply.

As early as Sunday, several companies temporarily closed some of their mills as evacuation orders, displaced employees, road closures and other factors made operations impossible or difficult.

It’s possible for the industry to increase capacity at other facilities, but Mamtora said it’s unlikely they can make up for all lost production. Fear over possible lumber shortages also “really pushes up the prices,” he said.

If the fires persist for a long time, that will have “a much more meaningful impact on pricing,” Mamtora added.

RELATED: Province will buy lumber to protect mills: Clark

In the case of mills staying shut for months or even sustaining damage, he estimates prices could rise between 15 and 17 per cent.

But Harry Nelson, an assistant professor of forestry at the University of British Columbia, said essentially the province’s entire production would have to be wiped out for such a spike to occur.

“At the end of the day, whatever hole these wildfires create gets filled in somewhere else,” Nelson said.

For weeks, Canada’s softwood lumber industry has been hit by U.S. duties, and companies operating in B.C. have been hit particularly hard.

On average, the lumber industry faces tariffs of 27 per cent. But West Fraser Timber (TSX:WFT), Canfor (TSX:CFP) and Tolko, all of which are headquartered in the province, have been charged duties of 31, 28 and 27 per cent, respectively.

The short-term lift in prices is good for producers, Nelson said, as it means more money in their pockets after tariffs are paid.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Artists lined up as Duncan gallery gets ready to reopen

“Our window displays for June showcase the work of some of the Island’s finest artists”

Mary Lowther column: Sometimes life gets in the way of gardening

The cover crop of winter rye still waves at me from the garden

Sarah Simpson Column: Siblings are the best (and the worst, by default)

If my brother-in-law wanted a walk, he was going to have to work for it.

Maple Bay animator helps lead Netflix’s ‘The Willoughbys’

Family comedy with A-list voices has Cowichan Valley ties

CVRD may have to delay 11 capital projects scheduled for 2020

More than 50 of the 81 projects are complete or are schedule for the year

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read