VICTORIA - The difficulties facing British Columbia's forest industry are compounding as the Teal-Jones Group says it is immediately shutting down its coastal harvesting operations.

Company vice-president Gerrie Kotze says it is ending its harvesting operations on the B.C. coast due to weak lumber markets and the high cost of fibre.

Kotze says in a statement the curtailment will result in a "substantial" loss of employment for company workers and contractors at harvesting operations in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island, as well as at shake and shingle mills in Surrey.

The statement doesn't say how many workers will lose their jobs.

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. announced Monday that it has plans to introduce variable operating schedules at five of its B.C. sawmills, resulting in a decrease in production of up to 25 per cent.

In the last few months, forest companies in B.C. have announced closures or curtailments in more than two dozen mills, most of them in the Interior.