PLANT

Catalyst announces permanent closure of Elk Falls mill


July 7, 2010
by PLANT STAFF

Rolls of newsprint in a Catalyst warehouse.

Photo: Catalyst

RICHMOND, BC: Catalyst Paper is permanently closing its Elk Falls paper mill near Campbell River, BC in September. A recycling mill in Coquitlam will also be shuttered.

This facility, which began operations in 1952 and at its peak produced 784,000 tonnes of pulp, paper and kraft paper annually, has been shut down since February 2009, affecting about 400 employees, at the time.

Since then, the company said 225 employees opted for a severance package averaging $57,000 per employee. About 100 remaining employees will be affected by the permanent closure.

“Today’s news is a disappointing outcome for mill employees and families, for the community, and for our business,” said Catalyst president and CEO Kevin Clarke, Wednesday. “The steep decline in commodity paper markets, coupled with uncompetitive labour and tax costs were contributing factors that could not be overcome.”

Catalyst had requested two locals of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada to help it cut costs. The union had rejected a previous call for cuts saying the company wanted members’ pay reduced an additional 40% to 45 per cent.

Catalyst’s recycling facility supplied the company’s Crofton mill. It was indefinitely idled in February due to reduced recycled pulp requirements, combined with higher cost and constrained availability of quality recovered paper. All employees were laid off at that time.

Richmond, BC-based Catalyst manufactures specialty printing papers, newsprint and pulp at five mills located in BC and Arizona.
PLANT, files from Canadian Press