Paper Excellence to Indefinitely Close Its Catalyst Crofton Paper Mill
The equilibrium between paper demand and supply within the printing industry continues to remain out of balance in North America, with no end in sight. Much of that has been driven by outright mill closures, numerous paper machine shutdowns, and the repurposing of existing mills to produce packaging, board stocks, and other high-value products instead of lower-margin printing grades.
Despite some positive news last week that Pixelle Specialty Solutions plans to restart a paper machine at its Chillicothe, Ohio, mill that will add 75,000 tons per year of capacity to serve the food packaging, commercial inkjet, and other specialty paper segments, Paper Excellence announced the indefinite curtailment of the paper operations at its Catalyst Crofton (Canada) facility starting in early December 2022.
Located on Vancouver Island, in the Cowichan Valley, the mill — which reportedly employs 585 full-time workers and contributes more than $1 billion to the local region economically — operates two paper machines and two pulp lines. It has the capacity to produce 320,000 tons of printing/packaging papers annually and 380,000 tons of pulp. The mill's pulp operations will continue.
The Crofton mill also took pride in its environmental sustainability, noting that 84% of its energy comes from renewable sources, with a 66% reduction in greenhouse gases since 1990.
According to the company, the deep-sea port Catalyst Crofton facility — which was commissioned in 1957 — provides an economic gateway to major marketing in western North America, Asia, and Latin America.
"Paper markets in China served by the mill have significantly weakened while there have been substantial cost escalations for chemicals, energy, and wood fibre used at Crofton," reported Paper Excellence in a prepared announcement. "The intersection of these pressures has materially impacted the financial viability of the paper operation."
Paper Excellence indicated it is assisting customers with this transition and will continue to supply them with production from its Port Alberni mill, where possible. In 2021, the company said it invested in repurposing the Port Alberni paper machines to manufacture food and packaging grades.
Paper Excellence also noted it is working with both Canadian provincial and federal governments while it conducts studies at the Catalyst Crofton facility to consider accelerating its conversion into natural food and packaging grades.
But, of course, no promises are being made by Paper Excellence to restart the paper manufacturing machines once they are shut down in early December.