Having reopened with new agreements for fibre supply, labor and electricity costs, the Port Hawkesbury Paper mill in Nova Scotia is now operating at a slim profit, the owner said in August. The mill has broadened its product line, and is making a higher grade of paper than it did with previous owners.
Pacific West Commercial Corp. bought the shuttered mill last year after former owner NewPage Port Hawkesbury filed for bankruptcy protection. It resumed operations in October 2012, operating only the TMP mill and supercalendered paper machine.
Pacific West CEO Ron Stern visited the mill in last month and spoke to reporters about the mill’s status. “It surpassed what we expected from a standpoint of the talent that’s in the mill, it seriously has. The numbers compared to what we projected are less than what we had hoped for but we’re still happy because of what we see in the future. You get the right people, you’ll make it succeed,” he said, according to the Cape Breton Post.
The Post reports that the mill is starting up its new $10-million debarking unit and there are plans for further improvements.
“It’s really important that we figure out how to reduce our amount of energy so we have a team going to Europe looking at various technology and our aim is to reduce the amount of energy by over 20%,” said Stern.
The owner also said PM2 is now able to produce a higher grade of supercalendered paper — SCA++, with the trade name Artisan — that can compete with lightweight coated paper.
“We are now going to be selling probably 80,000 tonnes next year to customers who previously used LWC paper,” Stern said. “The fact that we’ve broadened our market that we’re going after is very important to us.”
As for the still-closed newsprint line, PM1, it’s likely to be sold in the next few months. Stern told Cape Breton Post that management is trying to find a business case that will make the machine viable. Under previous ownership, the mill was using wood from outside of Nova Scotia to keep both machines running, and that increased costs.
“We’re going to make one more go of making sure we can’t think of a viable use for it here before we sell it,” Stern said. “I just hate to lose that asset that I keep thinking we should be able to come up with an idea but we haven’t. It just doesn’t fit with the fibre supply.”