The Bear Island newsprint mill, Hanover County, Virginia, is being idled, according to a news release from the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper in Richmond, Virginia.
White Birch paper Co., Greenwich, Connecticut, had restarted the mill last year after a previous shutdown in 2017. The company announced March 8 it would cease production of newsprint effective immediately.
White Birch sold the mill to Kingsey Falls, Quebec-based Cascades Inc. in July 2018. Last year, Cascades announced plans to invest about $275 million to make recycled paper products at the Bear Island mill. Before the conversion takes place, White Birch Paper planned to temporarily operate the site as a newsprint mill under a 27-month lease.
However, Christopher Brant, president of White Birch Paper, released a statement the first week of March saying that “the idea and attempt to keep the employees of Bear Island active through the mill’s transition in ownership and grade production has come to an unfortunate and premature end.”
“We walked into this project believing that the U.S. trade actions surrounding the uncoated groundwood paper business made the mill’s output a necessity for customers in the U.S. market for the two years planned,” Brant adds in the company statement. “A challenging restart of the mill and zero-tariff environment have forced us to weigh the viability of continuing production amidst waning market support for the mill and the perceived advantages it has to offer.”
Cascades still plans to start production of containerboard at the plant in 2021, according to a news release from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That plan is contingent on final approval by Cascades’ board of directors.