Paper Excellence announced last week the permanent closure of the Mackenzie Pulp Mill located in Mackenzie, British Columbia. Production at the mill was originally curtailed in June 2020 due to market impacts caused by COVID-19 and lack of local economic fiber.
Since acquiring the Mackenzie mill in 2010, Paper Excellence has invested more than $360 million in the facility. 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 fiber meant the mill could not be globally competitive. Paper Excellence looks forward to the BC government’s continued focus on competitive mid-term timber supply and modernization of forest policy while ensuring an equitable distribution of access to forest tenures to support the diversity and competitiveness of the sector and the production of high value products.
The pulp and paper sector is essential to a healthy and sustainable forest economy and Paper Excellence continues to believe in its long-term investments in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada. To that end, Paper Excellence is restarting one of the paper machines in its Powell River mill in early May, investing with and establishing jointly beneficial partnerships with First Nations, and making a $13 million capital investment in the Port Alberni facility to diversify into higher-value markets. Furthermore, Paper Excellence is working towards making a significant capital investment in its Crofton facility and restarting its facility in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Taking care of Paper Excellence’s employees remains an important part of the Mackenzie closure. Where possible, Mackenzie employees have been relocated to other Paper Excellence facilities across Canada. Meanwhile, the terms of the collective agreement with UNIFOR Local 1092 will be respected and severance payments made.
Paper Excellence is also committed to the ongoing protection of the receiving environment. Gaseous, liquid, and solid chemicals as well as residues have been safely removed from the Mackenzie mill site. Currently, a small team of employees is providing around the clock monitoring while the development of a long-term remediation plan begins, and the company explores ways to repurpose the facility in the future.