ProcessBarron Plays Part in Saving a Manitoba Pulp and Paper Mill from Closure

pulp and paper mill

In the final months of 2016, a pulp and paper mill in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada was set to permanently close, eliminating 332 jobs at the flip of a switch. Business was not only dwindling but plummeting as the mill recorded zero paper orders in November of that year.

Around the same time, though, a Canadian subsidiary of a private industrial investment group from the U.S., Canadian Kraft Paper, purchased the failing paper mill and its underutilized sawmill in hopes of turning it around. To support the new owner, the town of The Pas waived property taxes for three years.

First Steps

CKP got to work immediately to get the mill up and running again. Their first order of business was to pursue re-certification to the CSA Sustainable Forest Management Standard and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Next, they worked to receive re-approval for their forest management license on 22 million acres of woodlands. They didn’t stop there, though—CKP then signed an agreement on a 50-50 partnership with seven area First Nations, the predominant indigenous peoples group in Canada, to share forest caretaking responsibilities.

In addition to an overhaul of the business side of the mill, CKP initiated improvements in day-to-day operations, starting with the steam and chemical recovery areas. Without the investment of major entities, the smaller projects would not have been possible. With a $9 million superheater supplied by one of the entities, the mill was able to make improvements to their recovery boiler. After an additional $12 million worth of improvements, the mill was equipped with a high-speed vision camera system, redistributing oxygen analyzers for the recovery boiler, and more.

To conserve energy, CPK also had a vibrating conveying grate installed as well as upgrades to their air system and ash system in their power boiler. ProcessBarron had the privilege of upgrading the ash system to assist with energy conservation plans.

Continued Improvement

CKP’s partnership with First Nations continues to blossom into a productive, mutually beneficial relationship. The chiefs of the seven First Nations groups that CPK entered into business with formed the Nekoté Limited Partnership as part of their pursuit of increased involvement in forest management decision-making. Today, CKP benefits greatly from Nekoté’s indigenous knowledge in forest management, and Nekoté benefits from employment opportunities from CKP and increased environmental protection.

Due to changes across every facet of the mill and its management, production has increased about seven percent across two years. According to their five-year plan, CKP predicts that the mill will grow an additional 25 percent.

The Resiliency of Pulp and Paper

CKP kept all the workers from the original mill, though they did suffer ten-percent cuts to their pay for the first two years of the new ownership. Thankfully, in July of 2018, the mill signed a new agreement that increased wages, benefits, leave, and safety equipment allowances for all workers. Because of their success in turning the mill around, CPK was named the 2018 Mid-Sized Company Turnaround by the Turnaround Management Association.

We are proud of the resiliency of this mill and what it means for the longevity of the pulp and paper industry!

ProcessBarron engineers, constructs, and installs bulk material handling equipment for the pulp and paper industry. Contact us for more information.