IP to Close Alabama Mill in Q1 2014, Impacting 1,100 Jobs
MEMPHIS, TN—International Paper announced plans to permanently close its Courtland, AL, mill, a facility that is part of the company's Printing and Communications Papers Business. The mill will shut down in stages with a full closure expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2014. This mill closure will reduce IP's North American uncoated and coated freesheet paper production capacity by 950,000 tons, of which 765,000 is uncoated freesheet.
The Courtland Mill produces papers for forms, envelopes, labels, copiers, printers and magazines. The demand for uncoated freesheet in North America has been in decline since 1999 and has recently accelerated as consumers continue to switch to electronic alternatives such as online publications and electronic billing and filing.
"These decisions are especially difficult because of the impact to long-serving and hard-working employees, their families and the surrounding communities," said International Paper Chairman and CEO, John Faraci. "This decision to permanently close capacity is primarily being driven by demand decline for uncoated freesheet paper products in the United States."
Approximately 1,100 employees will be impacted by the closure. The company says it will work closely with union officials concerning benefits and other assistance programs for impacted hourly employees. Salaried employees impacted by these machine shutdowns will be eligible for severance packages and outplacement assistance consistent with company policy.
"We explored numerous business and re-purposing options for the Courtland Mill, but concluded that permanently closing the mill best positions the business for the future," said Tim Nicholls, Printing and Communications Papers senior vice president.
International Paper's Printing and Communications Papers Business will consist of four paper mills focused on uncoated freesheet, bristols and specialty papers markets: Two uncoated freesheet paper mills, Eastover, SC, and Riverdale, AL; and two specialty paper mills, Georgetown, SC, and Ticonderoga, NY.