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Management Side
Port Hawkesbury Paper says order book full six years after reopening

POINT TUPPER, N.S. (From news reports) -- Port Hawkesbury Paper's order books for 2019 are essentially full, a senior company official says.

It's good news for the largest industrial employer in the Strait of Canso region, which is now six years removed from a year-long shutdown and sales process following the bankruptcy of its former American parent company.

The company embarked upon its own economic impact study recently, conducted by Gardner Pinfold. It looked at the gross value of output, gross domestic product, employment, labour income and taxes.

Allan Eddy is the mill's director of business development, a role he has held since August. The reopening of the mill was assisted by an aid package of $124.5 million over 10 years from the province. The study was not something the mill was mandated to do under the terms of that agreement, Eddy said.

"I think it was important to demonstrate to ourselves and to the province the value that the company was bringing," he said in an interview.

Port Hawkesbury Paper declined to release the full report when requested by the Cape Breton Post. Figures released by the company state that total expenditures by the mill have exceeded $1 billion since it reopened in 2012.

"The orders have been strong and the market has really responded to the quality of the product that the mill is putting out and our sales teams have been out there and we have sales to over 225 different printing outlets on five continents," Eddy said.

The case for reopening the mill, which produces supercalendered paper for the catalogue, magazine and flyer market, was built on the mill being the one of the best facilities of its kind in the world, he added.

"The people here at the mill have really put their shoulder to the wheel to produce the best quality paper out there and it has been very well accepted in the marketplace," Eddy said.

The mill provides 325 direct full-time equivalent jobs and an estimated 700 indirect jobs. The average mill income is 44 per cent higher than the average industrial wage in Nova Scotia. Under the terms of the labour agreement struck when the mill reopened, its unionized employees agreed to a 10-year contract with no wage increases.

Under its former manager of business development, the late Marc Dube, the mill had worked in some areas to diversify its operations. Eddy said his focus within the next 12-18 months will be to have another commercial activity on the Point Tupper site, with possibilities including bio-refinery opportunities and land-based aquaculture, but said it was too early to discuss those projects in detail. The site has a wharf and rail access and excess warehouse capacity which provide other opportunities, Eddy said.

A project looking at the potential extraction of sugars from fibre is still underway but dependent on world markets and energy costs, Eddy said.

According to figures provided by the mill, in 2017 its annual spending in the province exceeded $170 million. Tax revenues of all types, from both direct and spinoff activities, were listed at about $27 million annually, including personal income tax, taxes on products and production and municipal taxes. Eddy noted the impact of the mill can be felt in the province as far away as past Halifax.

The mill spends more than $30 million annually on wood harvesting and operations.

Port Hawkesbury Paper has continued to invest in its thermomechanical pulp operations to improving paper production. The company also manages 523,000 hectares of Crown lands.

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