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West Fraser cutting pulp production at Alberta mill, changing type of pulp output

Company permanently reducing capacity at its pulp mill in Hinton by end of the year
Logs are piled up at West Fraser Timber in Quesnel, B.C., Tuesday, April 21, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. says it will cut production capacity and jobs at an Alberta pulp mill and change the type of pulp output.

The Vancouver-based forest products company says it will permanently reduce capacity at its pulp mill in Hinton, Alta., by the end of the year.

One of Hinton Pulp’s two production lines will shut, and the remaining line will produce unbleached kraft pulp — used to make cardboard packaging, grocery bags, fibre-cement board and specialty products — rather than northern bleached softwood kraft pulp.

CEO Ray Ferris says changes to the mill, which has been in operation since 1956, are needed to simplify operations, reduce capital requirements and greenhouse gas emissions and better align with consumer expectations.

Staff levels will move to 270 from 345 with West Fraser expecting to mitigate the impact through attrition, retirements and employment opportunities at its other operations.

West Fraser says it will record a US$13-million impairment charge in the first quarter as a result of the writedown of decommissioned equipment.

The company says cutting one production line will result in an estimated 35 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to taking about 19,900 cars off the road per year.

—The Canadian Press

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