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Domtar shuttering Espanola pulp and paper operation

Machines will be shut down this fall with entire northeastern Ontario operation to be idle for one year
Espanola pulp and paper plant (Domtar photo)

Domtar is indefinitely idling operations at its Espanola pulp and paper operations.

The South Carolina-headquartered forest products company announced Sept. 6 that the pulp mill will shut down in early October with the paper machines switched off in early November. Domtar said the shuttering of operations will be for a period greater than one year.

The company said 450 employees will be affected at the mill, 70 kilometres west of Sudbury.

The mill had reportedly been on the selling block for months since a Competition Bureau ruling late last year involving the purchase of Resolute Forest Products. Domtar was ordered to divest itself of some assets. The company agreed to sell its pulp and paper operations in Dryden.

Domtar attributes the decision to “years of ongoing operating losses and high costs associated with maintaining and operating the facility.” 

“The Espanola mill has been challenged for some time now,” said Steve Henry, Domtar paper and packaging president, in a statement.

“We have worked diligently to find a viable path forward for the operation including offering it for sale. Employees affected by this change have earned our appreciation and we thank them for their contributions. We also want to thank federal and provincial officials for their efforts.”

Approximately 280,000 tonnes of northern bleached softwood kraft paper and 69,000 tonnes of specialty paper, produced annually at the northeastern Ontario operation, will be curtailed.

Domtar said it will take “appropriate measures to assist employees affected by this decision in accordance with the collective agreement, Domtar policy and legislation. The mill will be idled in a safe and environmentally sound manner that will facilitate a possible sale or future restart.”