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Management Side
New owners will use Hinton pulp mill to make sustainable packaging

CANADA (From news reports) -- A British company's acquisition of the Hinton pulp mill could breathe new life into an aging industrial landmark in the Alberta foothills.

Mondi, which produces sustainable packaging such as paper wrappers and envelopes, finalized its purchase of the pulp and paper mill last month for $5 million.

"We try to make this world a little better place," Roman Senecky, chief operations officer of kraft paper for Mondi, said at a news conference.

The Hinton mill is the first Canadian acquisition for the company, which has 22,000 employees in 30 countries.

Senecky said making kraft paper in Hinton will allow Mondi to produce the raw material for customized products closer to its existing 10 North American plants, rather than importing paper from Europe.

West Fraser Timber Co., which sold the mill to Mondi, had been scaling down operations and reducing jobs at the 67-year-old mill.

The timber company will continue to supply wood to the mill.

Senecky said Mondi is also studying an expansion project to add a kraft paper machine to the site to produce up to 200,000 tonnes of paper each year.

Although the company last year pegged the machine cost at around $580 million and planned to build by 2027, a spokesperson said Wednesday the timeline and cost are both subject to pre-engineering and permitting.

Mondi did not provide an estimate of how many new jobs could be created.

New ownership gives Hinton new life, mayor says

At a launch event in Hinton on Wednesday, Mayor Nicholas Nissen said the new ownership marks the rebirth of Hinton. About 10,000 people live in the town, which is 285 kilometres west of Edmonton.

"The mill, everyone can tell, was coming up at the end of its life," Nissen said. "It breathes new life both into the mill, [and] into our town. It's a great long-term commitment for both us and Mondi."

The pulp mill was Alberta's first when it opened in 1957. Nissen said its construction sparked Hinton's incorporation as a town, which happened the following year.

The town has granted Mondi a 100 per cent property tax exemption for 15 years for any new equipment and property on the site.

Hinton relies on equipment on the mill site for treatment of civic water and wastewater. In February, the town inked new 20-year agreements with the company. The mill will treat the town's wastewater and supply the town with process water that it can treat for drinking.

Hinton's chief administrative officer, Jordan Panasiuk, said in an email the mill buys about $500,000-worth of drinking water from the town annually.

Alberta Jobs, Economy and Trade Minister Matt Jones said he's happy to see investment in the province's forestry manufacturing sector. He said it helps diversify the province's economy and create green jobs.

Jones said the acquisition is also a vote of confidence in the government's welcoming approach to investors.

"We have an obsession with being pro-business and anti-red tape," Jones said.

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