Mackenzie pulp mill will close permanently

Paper Excellence closing pulp mill due to lack of fibre

A Paper Excellence mill in Port Alberni. Company says it will offer Mackenzie workers relocation opportunities to work at other mills it operates in Canada. | Submitted

Paper Excellence says it will permanently close its pulp mill in Mackenzie, B.C., due to an inability to access "economic fibre."

The mill was temporarily shut down in 2020, partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the high cost of fibre.

But the company says the mill is no longer economic and will permanently close.

"Since acquiring the Mackenzie mill in 2010, Paper Excellence has invested more than $360 million in the facility," the company says in a press release. "However, despite these investments and the committed team of employees in Mackenzie, the facility’s small production capacity and the ongoing lack of local economic fibre meant the mill could not be globally competitive."

"Where possible, Mackenzie employees have been relocated to other Paper Excellence facilities across Canada," the company said.

While it is permanently closing its mill in Mackenzie, the company plans to invest $13 million at its mill in Powell River to restart a paper machine.

"Furthermore, Paper Excellence is working towards making a significant capital investment in its Crofton facility and restarting its facility in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan," the company added.

The closure of pulp and paper mills in B.C. has been predicted. as a result of the permanent closure of sawmills.

B.C.'s forest industry is highly integrated, with pulp and paper mills relying on wood waste from sawmills to make pulp. But a declining supply of timber in B.C. has resulted in the permanent closure of several sawmills in B.C. Mackenzie has been particularly hard hit by sawmill closures and curtailments.