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ANNIVERSARY: Minas Basin 75th Anniversary


November 1, 2002
By Pulp & Paper Canada

“Profitability through people, quality and the environment.” The mission statement of Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited in Hantsport, NS, rings as true today, on its 75th anniversary, as when…

“Profitability through people, quality and the environment.” The mission statement of Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited in Hantsport, NS, rings as true today, on its 75th anniversary, as when R.A. Jodrey founded the company in 1927. Located on the site of the old Churchill Shipyard, hugging the banks of the Avon River, Minas Basin provides jobs for some 219 people, many second and third generation employees.

On September 19th, MBP&P celebrated their 75th anniversary with lots of local participation and many of the employees acting as tour guides. It was a very successful day and many locals commented that they had lived in the area and had never taken the opportunity to tour the mill.

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Sharing the history

The late Roy Jodrey built the mill’s dam and power plant in St. Croix, NS, before the essential technology for such an endeavor were readily available in the region. Paperboard capacity was added to the mill in 1946. It is the founding company of the Scotia Investment Limited Group of Companies.

In 1991, Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited switched from partial to 100% recyclable furnish, diverting approximately 10.8 million cubic feet of wastepaper from landfills each year. A year later saw Minas Basin as the first mill in Nova Scotia, and one of the first in Canada, to be in total compliance with all Federal Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations. In 1994, Minas Basin closed its groundwood operation. On November 23rd, 1996 the first roll of linerboard rolled off PM2 the end result of a $34 million overhaul, tripling the mill’s paperboard capacity.

Positioning the future

What’s new on the horizon for Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited?

A $4 million process improvement was announced to help preserve jobs and to enhance the company’s competitive position and long-term viability. The investment will increase capacity and production efficiency of the company’s second production machine – PM2. Following an in-depth review of market conditions and customer requirements, Minas Basin has decided to permanently shut down production of its oldest production machine – PM1 – in December. Unfortunately, the decision will result in the elimination of 38 positions.

In the past several years, the company has explored new markets and tested different product lines in order to secure sales for both machines. In June of this year, the cost of raw materials doubled and world oil prices increased significantly. This, coupled with the sharp decline in the heavy weight market in favour of lighter weight environmentally friendly products, has resulted in a significant loss in competitive position. The older machine produces heavier weight materials such as coreboard and bristol board.

“The changes announced today are critical for the future of Minas Basin Pulp and Power, our ability to respond to shifting market conditions and to position our organization for the future,” said President and COO, Scott Travers. “This was a difficult but necessary decision in order to protect jobs and our competitive position.”

The company is working with its Union Executive to provide resume preparation and support services to affected employees and to make the transition as smooth as possible for all concerned. The company plans to forward employee resumes to other organizations within the Scotia Investments Group of Companies.

The company currently diverts 40,000 MT (metric tonnes) of old corrugated carton (OCC) from Nova Scotia landfills every year. The investment will enhance the company’s capacity to meet and exceed its environmental commitments.

The company currently produces 75,000 MT of paperboard for customers in Canada, the United States and overseas. This year, Terry Gerhardt, general manager, paperboard division, hopes to increase last year’s production of linerboard by 15,000 metric tonnes. As well, there are always investments in new equipment and technology. “Every year,” Gerhardt explains, “we undertake small projects to improve the quality of our paper, and lessen its impact on the environment.”

“Additionally,” adds Minas Basin’s COO and company president, Scott Travers, “the company is looking at natural gas as a project for the future, which includes the possibility of bringing natural gas to Hantsport, and the Annapolis Valley. The Company’s power needs in the future could be met by using a combination of natural gas, windmills and the hydro plant Minas Basin already owns.

Of course, Minas Basin Pulp and Power will continue to focus on new markets. “We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket,” says Travers, recently back from visiting customers in Chile.

Travers emphasizes that employee relations and training figure high on the list of the company’s goals. A newly opened “Development Centre” will, over the next several years, provide training for both salaried and hourly employees, educating them in all aspects of papermaking. “Our goal is to be the preferred workplace in Nova Scotia.”

George Bishop, President of Scotia Investments Ltd. and grandson of Roy Jodrey put it this way, “We’ve been around for 75 years, and we hope to be around for at least 75 more. You don’t achieve that without substantial investment in people and equipment.” P&PC


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