Waverley Sawmills has eased back from full production while news of a sale is awaited, managing director Peter Martin says.
The sale process has been going on for 18 months. It is at a sensitive stage and an announcement could be made in the next two weeks.
There is more than one possible buyer, with multinational, corporate, local and marketing interests all involved, Martin said.
The mill has 65 staff, who have all be told "as much as they can be told", he said. The future of their jobs depends on the sale.
Waverley Sawmills can cut 150 cubic metres of timber a day. Cutting resumed on January 14, only to stop on January 17. It can't carry on, Martin said, because the way the timber is usually marketed conflicts with the interests of a possible buyer.
Sap-stained logs can't be cut at the sawmill, and some have been trucked elsewhere.
About 20 staff were working on February 12, while others have voluntarily taken annual leave they are owed.
The sawmill is the biggest business working within the South Taranaki town. It has staff from both Whanganui and Pātea as well as employing about 20 local people.
Despite that it's a relatively small mill, Martin said. It can cut 10 truckloads of logs a day, whereas about 100 loads of logs leave the area every day, bound for export.
Local forest owners don't need the mill, because they can get good prices by exporting their raw logs, he said.
In July 2017 the mill won a community work partnership award from the Department of Corrections, because it has hosted at least 40 prisoners in a Release to Work programme.