NewPage Corporation, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, which operates 10 paper mills in Kentucky, Maine (Rumford), Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nova Scotia, Canada, has announced the closure of its Whiting, Wisconsin coated paper mill. NewPage chose the Whiting plant for closure as it has the highest costs of their four mills that produce coated paper, and in response to a continuing weakness in the market for paper for mail-order catalogs, magazines, and retail support. The Whiting plant produced 250,000 tons of coated paper yearly.
“This remains a difficult time for the paper industry, for NewPage and for many of our customers,” said George Martin, NewPage president and chief executive officer. “While we have seen modest recovery in our coated markets, we continue to monitor the supply and demand balance and make the difficult choices needed to avoid oversupplying those markets. NewPage has the capacity and operational flexibility to produce both coated groundwood and coated freesheet on the same machines at other facilities. Therefore, we do not expect any interruptions in service to our customers while closing the Whiting mill, which is our highest cost-per-ton coated groundwood mill.”
Approximately 360 employees at the Whiting mill will lose their jobs. NewPage estimates that before the shutdown in Whiting, the total capacity of all their mills is approximately 4.4 million tons of paper, including approximately 3.2 million tons of coated paper, 1 million tons of uncoated paper, and approximately 200,000 tons of specialty paper.
According to NewPage, their Rumford operation, started in 1901, has “one kraft and one groundwood pulp mill, four coated paper machines plus supporting equipment and one pulp dryer. Each year, the facility produces an average of 640,000 tons of paper and approximately 500,000 tons per year of hardwood, softwood and groundwood pulp.” It employs around 1100 people.