Roughly 450 employees will be affected by a 30-day curtailment at the Crofton mill. (Don Bodger photo)

Pulp and paper mill in Crofton faces 30-day closure due to lack of wood

Fibre shortage to blame

Paper production at the Crofton mill will be curtailed for 30 days due to a shortage of fibre, according to brass at Paper Excellence Canada.

Staff at the mill were told Friday morning the stoppage is expected to being around March 1.

“Numerous developments in both the BC coastal and interior forest regions have cut off long-term contractual supplies of wood that are foundational to our operations.” said Stew Gibson, vice president of operations-west. “We continue to evaluate and adapt our operating plans accordingly.”

The curtailment will affect roughly 450 Unifor and Pulp Paper and Woodworkers of Canada members.

“These curtailments are particularly hard on our employees, their families and the many other people that depend our facility,” Gibson recognized.

Gibson says pulp and paper remains vitally important to the strength of the forest sector and he’s encouraged by a tentative settlement in a nearly eight-month strike that idled Western Forest Products operations across Vancouver Island.

United Steelworkers Union members voted Thursday and Friday on a tentative contract to end that dispute, with leaders of the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-1937 recommending acceptance. They expected voting results as early as Saturday.

Gibson said resolution of the Western Forest Products strike will re-establish an important chain of supply on the west coast.

It is not a complete shutdown as fibre receiving activities as well as other critical areas of the mill will continue to operate through the curtailment, the company said.

“Pulp and paper remains vitally important to the collective strength of the forest sector. Our industry transforms nearly half of the forest harvest into sustainably produced value-added goods and biomass energy. So it is encouraging to see impending resolution to the labour dispute as an important step in re-establishing this value chain on the coast,” Gibson said. “We continue to work senior government officials to seek solutions to the fibre and other challenges that we face.”

– with files from The Canadian Press



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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