IP idles Louisiana mill

Published 2:18 pm Friday, November 21, 2008

International Paper Co., which is eliminating about 100 jobs at its Franklin mill, on Friday announced the indefinite closure of a pulp mill in Bastrop, La.

The decision to idle the mill was attributed to a continuing decline in pulp demand from its customers worldwide, coupled with a weak global economy. The closure will result in curtailment of the company’s annual pulp production capacity by approximately 450,000 tons. The shutdown will begin immediately, officials said. The mill is currently taking downtime due to a lack of pulp orders.

“We have carefully reviewed current options for the Louisiana mill and determined that because of an accelerating decline of pulp demand by our customers and the continued weakening of the global economic outlook for the foreseeable future, we needed to reduce our pulp production and close the mill indefinitely,” said Wayne Brafford, IP’s senior vice president for printing and communications papers. “Our company is committed to matching our supply with the needs of our customers, which makes this difficult business decision necessary in a rapidly declining pulp marketplace. We will also work closely with our customers to help them meet their product needs.

“As always, the most difficult part of this closure is the effect on employees, their families and the community. The hard-working employees at the Louisiana mill have not only consistently performed and made excellent quality products for years but have also been great examples of excellence in safety and employee engagement. We will do all we can to assist them during the closure process.”

The indefinite closure will affect approximately 550 employees. Salaried and non-exempt employees will be offered severance packages and outplacement assistance. The company said it is committed to working closely with union officials to determine benefits. Negotiations concerning the effects of the closure with the union will begin as soon as possible. Employee assistance providers will be available to support employee and family needs.