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Industry News (December 01, 2005)


December 1, 2005
By Pulp & Paper Canada

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

IRVING CAPTURES NSERC AWARD

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HALIFAX, NS — The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) presented its annual awards for excellence in innovation at an awards ceremony in Halifax on October 19th.

Six partnerships were singled out for national prizes, one of which was shared between the University of New Brunswick, Irving Pulp and Paper and Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute. The trio was honoured for world leadership in pinpointing the source of pulp and paper mill compounds that cause reproductive changes in fish, and in validating a reliable technological remedy.

The acknowledgement that living downstream of a pulp and paper mill may not be healthy for fish prompted the study, which culminated in the development of a new mill effluent treatment system based on reverse osmosis. The technology, which was recently applied to a pulp mill, has proven to be the best solution for removing EDSs and preserving the kind of natural aquatic environments needed for reproductively healthy fish.

MILLS

GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL FOR ABITIBI

STEPHENVILLE, NF — Stephenville residents may soon be breathing a collective sigh of relief. An agreement between Abitibi-Consolidated and the provincial government could potentially secure capital the company could use to keep the mill running, and 260 people employed.

The establishment of the framework agreement involves an annual commitment of $10 million from the government and/or Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

The accession is for a three-year period, however, Abitibi and the government will be able to renew the adjudication four times, totaling a timeframe of 12 years.

The agreement comes just after the company announced its Q3 results, which included net earnings of $99 million, compared to $182 million for the corresponding quarter in 2004.

In a conference call, CEO John Weaver confirmed that energy posed the biggest obstacle to restarting the mill, which was idled at the end of October. “The biggest problem is energy,” Weaver said. However, the recent government proposal has incited the company to consider a potential restarting of the facility.

The futures of the company’s Kenora, ON and Lufkin, TX mills have yet to be decided.

AID

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES $1.5B AID PACKAGE

TIMMINS, ON — The Federal Government has unveiled a $1.5 billion aid package for the forestry sector.

“No other industry has been subjected to such measures,” Minister of Natural Resources John McCallum said of the $5 billion collected in illegal duties by the U.S. “Two days ago, the Americans confirmed they will comply with the rules of NAFTA…but we need to support workers and their firms while we’re waiting.”

The package comes in two parts. A total of $800 million will be made available in loan insurance for companies looking to invest in their operations. The remaining money will then be subdivided into five categories. A sum of $150 million will go directly to support workers and their communities. An additional $215 million will be used to help the industry buy the latest technology to improve competitiveness. This money will largely be used by pulp and paper companies. The development of strategies to innovate the forestry sector and to make the most of Canadian fibre will be granted $90 million. A total of $66 million will go to market development and growth, while $50 million will be used to support bioenergy and the encouragement of alternative energy sources.

As for whether or not the allotted capital will be sufficient, McCallum responded by saying, “as Prime Minister Paul Martin said, if more money is needed, more money will be forthcoming.”

MILLS

TEMBEC HIKES PRICES AT TEMISCAMING

TEMISCAMING, QC — Tembec Cellutions applied a surcharge of US$75admt on all products made at its pulp mill in Temiscaming, QC. The levy became effective on December 1st.

The company has confirmed the charges are temporary and are needed to offset cost pressures in chemicals, energy and transportation.

“The application of this measure is an indication that we believe current market levels for these important raw materials are likely unsustainable, and that our clients would prefer to pay a temporary surcharge,” Peter Jack, vice president of sales and marketing for Cellutions said of the surcharge.

MILLS

NORAMPAC’S RED ROCK ON SHAKY GROUND

THUNDER BAY, ON — They may have been spared the initial lay-off, but the 300 workers remaining at Norampac’s Red Rock plant may be forced to make difficult concessions in order to keep their jobs.

Two and a half months after the mill closed one of its papermachines and cut 94 jobs as a result, comes news that the plant’s workforce may be asked to be acquiescent if the facility is to stay open.

According to the Chronicle-Journal, Norampac CEO Marc-Andre Depin has confirmed that unless workers concede to being flexible, the company will not invest the capital necessary to making the linerboard plant profitable.

Although the implications of ‘flexible’ have yet to be defined, the Chronicle-Journal reported that it could involve the installation of a co-generation plant should workers be yielding.

The Thunder Bay-based publication further reported that Depin is seeking government aid for the mill.

Although concrete numbers haven’t been decided upon, as many as 175 people could be thrown out of work if a solution is not found.

PAPERCLIPS

CAVEAT EMPTOR

If you happen to be experiencing difficulty in trying to decide where to spend your hard-earned money, New Zealand’s TradeMe internet auction site might have some ideas for you. Auckland teenager Rhys White was surprised to learn just how many people in fact suffer from indecision regarding their spending habits.

According to www.stuff.co.nz, a slow day at the office prompted White to post a red paper clip for sale on the trading site. With an initial going price of $1, he included a small bio for the clip, “hope this paper clip goes to a good home or office. Has served me well,” along with salient details concerning measurements.

After the site had logged pages upon pages of questions pertaining to the coveted clip, White secured a buyer, Keith Brock, also from Auckland, and $173 dollars.

As reported by www.stuff.co.nz, Brock became a TradeMe member in March of 2003, and confirmed his decision to buy the paper clip was, “a bit of a laugh. There’s all sorts of things going on in the world and if you can’t have a laugh, there’s something wrong.”

The pair claimed the transaction was “a harmless bit of fun,” and White promptly donated the full $173 to the Auckland SPCA.

Source: www.stuff.co.nz

MILLS

PRIVATE SECTOR BUYER WANTED FOR PRINCE ALBERT

PRINCE ALBERT, SA — There may yet be hope to be had for Weyerhaeuser’s Prince Albert pulp and paper mill, the provincial government has confirmed. According to the Daily Herald, a private-sector buyer for the facility is being sought.

The Herald reported that according to a task force on the forestry industry, no options are being ruled out, but involvement from the federal government is currently not high up on the priority list.

The Herald further reported that a meeting between the task force and a technical committee of government experts held on October 12th was the first congregation engaged in by the groups since the task force was announced on October 4th, right after the announcement of the mill’s pending closure.

According to the Herald, while the committee communicated to the task force that it had been in contact with several companies conce
rning the purchase of the mill, confirmation regarding how many enterprises have shown interest, and what companies they are, has yet to be received. There has been substantiation that a potential buyer from China has shown significant interest in buying up the mill’s assets, but details have not been released.

The task force will continue to meet to discuss progress made by the technical committee.

MILLS

CASCADES RANKED IN TOP 100 EMPLOYERS

KINGSEY FALLS, QC — Employees at Cascades have even more reason to feel good about their place of work. The company was recently designated one of Canada’s top 100 employers for 2006, selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc. in collaboration with Maclean’s magazine.

To secure a nomination, companies must undergo an investigation of their management practices. Workplace environment, dedication to the community and social benefits offered to employees are all included in the list of criteria upon which the enterprises are evaluated.

This year, 1,200 employers applied, hoping to be included in the list.

MILLS

FRASER PAPERS SELLS PAPERBOARD OPERATIONS

TORONTO, ON — Fraser Papers has sold off its New Brunswick paperboard operations to Cascades.

The company’s facility, located in Edmunston, manufactured roughly 50,000 tonnes of paperboard annually. For $5 million, Cascades bought the operation, and will be relocating the assets to its own facilities.

“This transaction maximizes value for Fraser Papers’ shareholders from a non-core operation where our small market share, structural changes in the industry and challenging competitive environment were impacting our ability to generate sustainable profitability,” said Dominic Gammiero, president and CEO.

Cascades anticipates the transaction will benefit its respective operations as well. Commented Eric Laflamme, president and CEO, “We intend to service Frasers’ customers from our existing facilities, which will enable us to improve our capacity utilization rate at our mills in East Angus and Toronto.”


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