Abitibi-Consolidated of Montreal, QC, is permanently shutting down one newsprint machine at its Steilacoom-West Tacoma, WA, mill. Prompted by market conditions, the closure reduces West Tacoma to a one-machine mill with a newsprint capacity of 45,000 m.t./yr.
Prior to the machine closure, the Steilacoom mill had the capacity to produce 525 tons/day or recycled content newsprint. The machine to be shut down is a 136-in.-trim fourdrinier with a Voith Top-Roll former that operates at 2,150 ft/min. The remaining machine is a 252-in.-trim Beloit fourdrinier unit also fitted with a Voith Top-Roll former. It operates at 3,200 ft/min.
"The market just wasn't there to support the machine's ongoing viability," said Alain Grandmont, VP of newsprint operations. "Our challenge now is to find the right strategic solution for West Tacoma as a one-machine operation. We will have a resolution by the end of this year."
The machine will shut down effective June 30, reducing employment by approximately 50 positions. Charges related to this reduction were provided for in the first quarter of 1999. This machine closure is part of Abitibi-Consolidated's strategy to take high-cost capacity out of the system and take market related downtime when necessary. Since the beginning of 1999, the company has permanently shut down 223,500 annual m.t. of newsprint and value-added capacity, including West Tacoma.
Additionally, the company announced that, effective June 20, the remaining newsprint machine at its Chandler, QC, newsprint mill will take downtime for an undetermined period due to market conditions, removing approximately 400 m.t./day.
Abitibi-Consolidated is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of newsprint and value-added papers, operating 19 mills throughout North America and the UK. Together with its Asian alliance (Pan Asian Paper Co. with four mills in South Korea, Thailand, and China), Abitibi-Consolidated supplies product to customers in more than 50 countries.