CANADA (From news reports) -- Powell River's biggest employer - the Catalyst paper mill - will be shut down indefinitely, says the owner, Paper Excellence.
The paper mill's closure follows the permanent shuttering of another Paper Excellence mill in Mackenzie just last year.
Paper Excellence earlier announced a temporary curtailment of the Catalyst mill in Powell River, due in part to the additional supply chain interruptions caused by recent flooding, which followed a more long-term supply chain disruption caused by a global pandemic.
But in a news release, Paper Excellence says it is shutting the paper mill down indefinitely, and will explore other uses for the land and facilities.
It's not just supply chain interruptions that have made the mill's ongoing operations uneconomic.
"The ongoing contraction of global paper markets and paper prices, particularly in Asia, are creating significant on-going financial losses at the mill," the company said in its press release. "Despite the best efforts of the mill's committed team of employees, the facility is simply not viable under the reality of today's market conditions."
The mill is a major employer in Powell River, employing more than 200 workers.
"The indefinite curtailment of Paper Excellence's Catalyst Paper...mill is devastating for the 206 people who work at a mill, their families and the Powell River community," said B.C. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy. "Our government has worked tirelessly with Paper Excellence to keep this operation running and it was our hope that the temporary curtailment announced two weeks ago would have been just that."
Paper Excellence says it will work with government and "potential partners" to find some other uses for the industrial site. The mill's infrastructure includes deep water port access, natural gas, electricity, water, a biomass boiler with power generating capacity, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal facilities.
"It is Paper Excellence's long-term goal that the site continues to provide meaningful employment and economic activity in Powell River."
"Our government is committed to supporting impacted workers through skills training, short-term employment opportunities, and employment assistance and support," Conroy said. "Separately, my colleagues and I will continue to meet with industry leaders to discuss future economic development opportunities at the site."
The Powell River paper mill was one of three owned by Catalyst Paper, which nearly went bankrupt in 2012. After seeking creditor protection, the publicly traded company was restructured as a private company and managed to keep its mills in Powell River, Crofton and Port Alberni running. In 2018, Paper Excellence acquired Catalyst and its three paper mills.