Resolute to cut 222 Calhoun plant jobs

By SARALYN NORKUS Staff Writer
Posted 8/16/17

Employees at Resolute Forest Products in Calhoun were informed on Tuesday of the permanent closure of paper machines No. 3 and No. 5.

According to an official release from Resolute, 222 …

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Resolute to cut 222 Calhoun plant jobs

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Employees at Resolute Forest Products in Calhoun were informed on Tuesday of the permanent closure of paper machines No. 3 and No. 5.

According to an official release from Resolute, 222 employees will feel the impact of this closure, reducing the plant’s workforce from 713 to 491.

“It’s a difficult discussion that we (had) with employees,” said Resolute Director of U.S. Public Affairs Debbie Johnston.

“As difficult as the news is for those 222 employees, we will continue to employ close to 500 — hopefully we will be repositioned for future growth.”

Both hourly and salaried positions will be affected in the closure, and they will be notified “as soon as possible” of their employment status. Some will be asked to continue to work with the shutdown of equipment, and others could be offered different positions within the mill or at other company facilities.

“We regret the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families and the community, and will work with affected employees, government officials and other local authorities on programs to mitigate the impact of the closures,” Resolute said in a release.

The reasons for the closure of the two paper mills were thoroughly detailed in the same release.

“This decision is motivated by challenging long-term market conditions — including unprecedented demand decline — for newsprint and uncoated groundwood paper produced on the machines.”

In just the first six months of 2017 there has been an 8 percent decline in demand for uncoated groundwood paper in North America, and a 53 percent decrease since 2007. Newsprint has seen a 12 percent decrease in the first six months of 2017 and 66 percent decline in the past 10 years.

The closure of machines 3 and 5 will be completed no later than Sept. 30, and will result in “the reduction of 356,500 metric tons of paper production capacity.” The thermo-mechanical pulp mill, a wood yard and a paper wrap line will also be closed and there will be a reduction in the shipping department. Despite the closure of the two machines, the market pulp production capacity at the mill will increase by more than 10 percent.

According to Johnston, the plant, which has been operating in Calhoun since 1954, shut down paper machines No. 1 and No. 2 in 2008, continuing with No. 3-5. Machine No. 4 will now be the only paper machine remaining in operation. This machine is able to produce 148,000 metric tons of uncoated groundwood and bag paper grades annually and the pulp dryer has an annual capacity of 183,000 metric tons of southern bleached hardwood kraft pulp.

The Calhoun plant’s focus has shifted to the “growing tissue market,” which is evident in the $400 million investment Resolute has made over the past three years. Capital improvements have been made at the Calhoun mill, including the construction of a state-of-the-art tissue machine and converting operation and a continuous pulp digester.

“We have been open and transparent in discussing our investment program at the mill,” the company said.

“We are committed to growing our tissue business and the Calhoun mill remains attractive for future growth.”

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saralyn.norkus@

clevelandbanner.com

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