Over 200 paper mill workers are out of a job, effective immediately, as Paper Excellence announced an indefinite shutdown of operations at its Catalyst Paper tiskwat mill in Powell River.
Paper Excellence announced the mill closure on Wednesday, citing the ongoing contraction of global paper markets and paper prices, particularly in Asia, as being the biggest reason for creating significant ongoing financial losses at the Powell River mill.
The company, however, is interested in finding a long-term solution for the site in order to provide employment opportunities and economic activity in Powell River. It is unclear how the mill will be utilized moving forward, however, Paper Excellence says it is engaged in talks with the government as well as investors in an attempt to maximize the facility’s unique access to deep water, natural gas, electricity, and water supplies, as well as its existing biomass boiler with power generating capacity, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal infrastructure.
As a result of the paper mill shutdown, Paper Excellence says that a total of 206 employees will be impacted by the decision.
“We acknowledge the extraordinary effort of this committed team of employees who have worked tirelessly since the restart in May 2021,” reads the company’s statement.
“Where possible, the company plans to offer relocation or secondment opportunities to other Paper Excellence facilities across BC where there are currently job vacancies. The company will also respect and fulfill all obligations under the terms of the collective agreements with UNIFOR Local 1 and Local 76.”
The company says it intends to safeguard the site, along with the equipment at the facility, in the wake of the shutdown. Paper Excellence plans on removing all fibre and chemicals and will carry out a general cleanup of the facility to eliminate environmental risks.
Paper Excellence will continue to supply paper customers with production from its other paper mills in Crofton and Port Alberni, outlining that it is committed to long-term investments at these locations.