A shutdown at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper (CBPP) would saw through the entire forest industry, the province’s Finance minister says.
Tom Marshall expects there’d be a detrimental hit to the sector because the bigger sawmills would lose a major customer and partner.
The Corner Brook operation is an outlet for lumber byproducts from the sawmills and accepts pulpwood, pulp chips, bark, sawdust and shavings.
The paper plant is also part of a fibre exchange program with two sawmills that sees logs from CBPP traded for an equal amount of chips or pulpwood.
Closure would affect larger sawmills, minister says
“They feed off each other,” Marshall explained.
The Corner Brook mill’s future has been up in the air for weeks.
After workers rejected a pension restructuring proposal in mid-May, Kruger Inc., the company that owns the mill, announced it was assessing the operation’s viability.
CEO Joseph Kruger emerged from a two-hour meeting about the situation with Premier Kathy Dunderdale Monday saying he was discouraged and concerned.
Marshall recently spoke with The Telegram about the economic impacts losing the mill would have on Corner Brook and the entire province.
He also pointed out the negative effect it would have on the larger sawmills.
“It will materially affect the sawmill industry in an adverse way,” the minister said. “With no immediate outlet for pulpwood and chips, companies like Sexton Lumber, Cottles Island Lumber and Burton’s Cove Logging would be impacted adversely.”
Messages left with those three operations were not returned by deadline.
There is speculation some sawmills would close if Corner Brook is shut down.
Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy noted the importance of CBPP to the forest industry in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Asked by New Democrat Christopher Mitchelmore about certification of Crown lands to help forestry companies, Kennedy said, “You can have all the certification in the world if you do not have an industry and, unfortunately, that is where we are in this province right now. The situation with Kruger, Mr. Speaker, is one that as long as it stays open it ensures that there is a future for the forestry in this province.”
While Mitchelmore acknowledges the Corner Brook mill’s value to the industry, he later explained the certification he wants considered would help companies, likes those who produce wood pellets, pursue international markets.