Paper Excellence permanently closes pulp mill in Mackenzie, B.C., at a cost of 250 jobs

·1 min read
Mackenzie residents rallying in August 2019 to protest the bleak state of the forest industry in the area. (Nicole Oud/CBC - image credit)
Mackenzie residents rallying in August 2019 to protest the bleak state of the forest industry in the area. (Nicole Oud/CBC - image credit)
Mackenzie residents rallying in August 2019 to protest the bleak state of the forest industry in the area.
Mackenzie residents rallying in August 2019 to protest the bleak state of the forest industry in the area.(Nicole Oud/CBC)

Paper Excellence has announced it's officially closing its pulp mill in Mackenzie, B.C., permanently putting about 250 employees out of work.

The company originally curtailed production at the mill in June 2020.

Mayor Joan Atkinson said the closure is not a big surprise to many of the community's 3,700 residents. She said for some pulp mill employees, the announcement brings closure.

"They're not being left in limbo wondering if they'll ever get their jobs back," she said.

Atkinson said she has confirmed with Paper Excellence that former employees will receive severance packages.

Mackenzie, B.C., is approximately 180 kilometres north of Prince George.
Mackenzie, B.C., is approximately 180 kilometres north of Prince George.(Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Lack of Fibre

Paper Excellence blamed COVID-19 and a lack of local fibre supply for their initial shutdown in 2020.

In a statement announcing the permanent closure, the company said, "The [pulp mill's] small production capacity and the ongoing lack of economic fibre meant the mill could not be globally competitive."

Atkinson said Paper Excellence received wood chips and fibre from the nearby Canfor saw mill. However, operations at the Canfor mill have been curtailed for nearly two years.

"The severance of the chip agreement between those two companies put Paper Excellence in a precarious situation," said Atkinson.

Paper Excellence said it is developing a long-term remediation plan for the pulp mill site, and is looking at ways to possibly repurpose the facility in the future.