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AWARDS: INDUSTRY RECOGNIZED FOR INNOVATION

OTTAWA, ON -- Two pulp and paper facilities were among the six winners of the federal 1999 Synergy Awards for University-Industry R&D Partnerships, which comes with a $10 000 research grant and a scul...


December 1, 1999
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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OTTAWA, ON — Two pulp and paper facilities were among the six winners of the federal 1999 Synergy Awards for University-Industry R&D Partnerships, which comes with a $10 000 research grant and a sculpture. “The awards honour outstanding achievement in innovation and wealth creation and showcase the best in collaborative research and development in the natural sciences and engineering,” said Jim Nininger, president and chief executive officer of Conference Board of Canada, one of the award’s sponsors. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council is the other.

The academic-industry partnership of University of British Columbia and Universal Dynamics were cited for their “successful partnership in the development of the Brain wave, an adaptive controller now in use in many process industries.” As well, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. and University of Alberta gained recognition for “a pioneering partnership that resulted in the development of a more natural forestry management model.”

ACQUISITION: SHAREHOLDERS NIX $3.6-BILLION DEAL

VANCOUVER, BC — After minority shareholders voted 91% against a plan by Fletcher Challenge Canada Ltd. to buy the pulp and paper assets of its New Zealand-based parent, Bob Stewart, company chairman and acting chief executive, said that the company will carry on as it has in the past. “We’ve done the best we could, and it wasn’t accepted. It doesn’t mean we disappear or the company has dashed upon the rocks. Far from it. It’s a strong company with a strong balance sheet. It will find a way to go forward,” he said. Stewart conceded that the deal fell apart on price. Although analysts and institutional shareholders had found the New Zealand company’s paper assets appealing, they found the purchase price too high. Consequently, the $3.6-billion bid was endorsed by only 9% of minority shareholders, whose majority support was required for the deal to go through. The New Zealand company wants to sell off its paper division to pay down a massive debt load.

GRADUATE TALKS: STUDENTS SHOW THEIR STUFF

MONTREAL, QC — Once again, as they have done for the past 14 years, graduate students from across Canada will gather at McGill University for the Canadian Pulp and Paper Graduate Students’ Seminars. The talks, which have become an indispensable part of a graduate student’s life, give students an opportunity to meet members of industry. Seventeen presentations are scheduled over a two-day period — Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2000 — at the Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish St., Montreal, QC. For more information, contact Prof. Dimitris Argyropoulos, Pulp and Paper Research Centre, by phone at 514-398-6178, or by E-mail at dimitria@shared1.lan.mcgill.ca.

CLOSURE: A-C’S PLANS TO SHUT MILL RILES QUEBEC GOVERNMENT

MONTREAL, QC — Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.’s move to close its 250 000-tonne-per-year (t/y) newsprint mill in Chandler, QC, has so angered the provincial government that it has threatened to take the company to court for reneging on a deal worked out in the spring. Provincial Natural Resources Minister Jacques Brassard said that an agreement was signed in which the company agreed to invest $100 million in the mill. In return, the Quebec government agreed to an $8-million grant and cutting rights to 278 000 cubic metres of forest valued at $28 million. The deal would have protected more than 250 of the mill’s 550 jobs, created 75 jobs in the sawmill and secured the jobs of 100 other forestry workers. As it stands, the economically strapped Gasp region will have 650 more workers on the unemployment line. The shutdown of the newsprint mill, which has been idler since June 1999, represents 8.3% of the company’s total production capacity.

RESTRUCTURING: JOB CUTS IN THE WORKS, WEYERHAEUSER SAYS

VANCOUVER, BC — American-based Weyerhaeuser Co. plans to reduce its payroll by up to $200 million (US) a year through job cuts, but said the downsizing will not affect blue-collar jobs from the company it has acquired, MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. Given that Weyerhaeuser of Federal Way, WA, already has a head office in Vancouver, it is likely that a good number of the 200 white-collar employees at MacBlo’s Vancouver headquarters will lose their jobs through duplication. Blue-collar workers will not be targeted in the layoffs. Weyerhaeuser said it is starting a three-year cost-cutting program to trim between $150 million and $200 million a year in support and administrative costs. Layoffs will occur in such areas as information technology, finance and accounting, human resources, engineering, public relations, purchasing, transportation, and environmental health and safety. About 5900 of Weyerhaeuser’s 35 000 employees worldwide work in Canada. MacBlo employs 9500, 5500 of them in Canada.

MILL OCCUPATION: WORKERS TRY TO FORCE BANK’S HAND

THOROLD, ON — Members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada have taken over the Thorold paper mill since Oct. 18, in an effort to stop the Toronto-Dominion Bank and Ernst &Young from liquidating Gallaher Thorold Papers. “We are in this for the long haul,” said Mike Lambert, CEP national representative and chief negotiator. “We are prepared to be here till Christmas or Easter, if necessary.” The union has developed a schedule to rotate the men in the mill so they can fulfill their family commitments and also maintain the occupation and control of the facility. The CEP, which represents about 270 of the mill’s 310 workers, began the occupation after learning that the mill’s assets were expected to be liquidated, even though two offers were on the table to purchase and re-open it. The mill closed its doors on May 25 after its American owners declared bankruptcy. The mill has had a presence in downtown Thorold, west of Niagara Falls, since the turn of the century.

BRIEFLY

Slocan Forest Products said it will invest $60 million on capital expenditures over the next 16 months, which are earmarked for such programs as de-bottlenecking the company’s high-yield pulp mill in Taylor, BC.

Harnischfeger Industries Inc., St. Francis, WI, the world’s largest maker of mining equipment, plans to sell all or parts of its Beloit Corp. pulp and paper machine units to help it repay creditors as it works its way out of bankruptcy. Several companies have expressed interest in buying the Beloit, WI-based company.

Spexel Inc., Beauharnois, QC, has received $4.75 million in investments, which it will use to buy the trademark Byronix, to upgrade its 60-t/d mill and to increase its working capital. Spexel is the only paper mill to supply currency paper to the Bank of Canada.

Pope & Talbot Inc., Portland, OR, has completed its acquisition of the 40% of Harmac Pacific that it did not already own. In the transaction, Harmac shareholders received a total of about $30 million and about 1.5 million P&T common shares.

Hundreds of workers and managers have taken control of Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill north of St. Petersburg, Russia, even though it was sold to foreign owners. The mill was privatized in 1997, and since then workers have run the mill, not allowing owners to take charge. The St. Petersburg Arbitration Court ruled recently that the British company Alcem UK Ltd. is the lawful owner, after it bought the plant from Cyprus-based Nimonor Investments Ltd.

Montreal-based Tembec Inc. has signed an agreement with Donohue Forest Products Inc., SGF Rexfor Inc. and Investissement Quebec to purchase all of the issued and outstanding shares of the Donohue Matane Inc. mill. Tembec agreed to pay $48.5 million in cash and assumed debt. The acquisition makes Tembec the largest Canadian manufacturer of market pulp.

SAFEST MILL IN CANADA

JANUARY 1 TO OCTOBER 31, 1999INJURIESPAYROLLFREQUENCY
HOURSRATE
A – OVER 100,000 MANHOURS PER MONTH
Bowater Pulp & Paper Inc., Thunder Bay, ON02 053 2900.00
Fraser Papers Inc., Edmundston, NB01 065 8260.00
Abitibi-Consolidated, Fort Frances, ON11 206 7520.83
Kimberly-Clark Forest Products Inc., Terrace Bay, ON11 053 3220.95
Weyerhaeuser Canada, Dryden, ON21 655 8101.21
B – 50,000 TO 100,000 MANHOURS PER MONTH
Provincial Papers Inc., Thunder Bay, ON0986 1920.00
Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., Kenora, ON0938 9890.00
Weyerhaeuser Canada, Grande Prairie, AB0878 9950.00
Kimberly-Clark, New Glasgow, NS0623 3850.00
Tembec Industries Inc., Smooth Rock Falls, ON0549 6890.00
C – UNDER 50,000 MANHOURS PER MONTH
Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., Stephenville, NF0466 3180.00
Kimberly-Clark Inc., Huntsville, ON0360 1460.00
Quesnel River Pulp Co., Quesnel, BC0244 0400.00
Cartons St.-Laurent Inc., Matane, QC0238 8530.00
Norampac, Trenton, ON0221 0280.00