Paper Excellence says it will bring back 100 workers who were laid off at its paper mill in Croften, thanks to senior government funding that will help the company retool to make new products.
Paper Excellence announced in October 2022 that it would shut down its Catalyst paper mill in Crofton, due to high input costs and declining markets in China for traditional paper products, but would keep its pulp mill there operating.
The company announced Friday it plans to invest $50 million to retool one of its paper making machines to make paper products that replace single-use plastics. As a result, it will recall the 100 workers that had been laid off.
The Canadian government is contributing $14.3 million towards the upgrades. The B.C. government is kicking in $4.5 million.
“These contributions are absolutely essential to restarting the paper operations and securing these rural jobs at the site," said Paper Excelence Canada CEO Stew Gibson.
In addition to allowing the company to make new paper products with a growing market, the upgrades will reduce the mill's use of natural gas, the company said in a press release.
"The C2 paper machine will be transformed to produce stronger, water-resistant paper grades which replace single-use plastics, while the investment also reduces natural gas consumption through more efficient use of waste bark fuel in the mill’s boiler," the company said.
Only one of its two paper machines is being upgraded. Its other machine will remain indefinitely curtailed, the company said.
The company said it will be working with Unifor Local 1132 and PPWC Local 2 on the recall of workers, with a restart date sometime this month.