Upcoming ‘indefinite’ curtailment at Catalyst Crofton will leave about 150 without a job

Upcoming 'indefinite' curtailment at Catalyst Crofton will leave about 150 without a job
File photo.

Paper Excellence says paper mill operations at one of its Vancouver Island facilities will face “indefinite” curtailment come early December, leaving about 150 people without a job.

In an announcement Thursday, the pulp and paper manufacturer says the decision to shutter the Catalyst Crofton facility near Duncan will affect about 80 Unifor and 70 Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) employees.

The mill’s pulp operations, meanwhile, will continue as usual, according to the company.

“We recognize the hardship this will have on both our employees and the Cowichan Valley,” Paper Excellence said in a news release, noting it hopes to minimize impacts through upcoming union discussions.

Paper Excellence blames the closure on paper markets in China, saying they’ve “significantly” weakened as the cost of chemicals, energy and wood fibre used at Crofton escalates.

“The intersection of these pressures has materially impacted the financial viability of the paper operation,” the company said in the release.

Working with provincial and federal governments, Paper Excellence says it’s conducting studies at Crofton to consider speeding up its conversion into natural food and packaging grades.

The company also says it’s reaching out to customers and will continue to supply them with production from its recently repurposed Port Alberni mill, where possible.

With multiple Canadian locations, Paper Excellence has facilities across B.C., including in Crofton, Port Alberni, Howe Sound and Skookumchuck, along with a distribution centre in Surrey. Its Powell River mill closed down last December.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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