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Catalyst Paper Restarts Idled PM 12 at Rumford, Recalls 51 Workers

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According to a report this week by the Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine, USA, "in a rare bit of good news for Maine’s paper industry, a Rumford paper machine that was shut down indefinitely last year has come back to life and dozens of people have been offered their jobs back." PM 12 at the Rumford mill was temporarily shut down in May 2015, leading to the layoff of 51 people at the Catalyst Paper mill. That following September, management said the machine would remain shut down indefinitely, citing reduced market demand.

But as the newspaper reported, the machine restarted at noon this past Tuesday, and all of the 51 workers furloughed when it was shut down have been recalled. With the recalled workers, the mill now employs 640. The Rumford mill is the largest of five mills owned by Catalyst.

Catalyst reportedly is developing new product lines to diversify its offerings in the paper market, including the most recent Rumford Offset, a specialty C1S grade designed for marketing materials. Rumford Offset will be made in 50, 60, and 70 lb. weights. PM 12 previously made coated paper for magazines and catalogs.

When Catalyst idled PM 12 last year, it reduced P&W paper production by 88,000 tpy. The mill annually produces some 260,000 tons of coated freesheet paper, about 170,000 tons of coated groundwood paper, and about 52,000 tons of specialty coated one-sided paper. The mill also produces market pulp.
As reported in the Portland Press Herald article, the Rumford mill was purchased by British Columbia-based Catalyst last January for $62.4 million. Formerly owned by NewPage Corp., the mill changed ownership at the time Verso Paper Corp. was preparing to buy NewPage. Since then, Catalyst has invested more than $9 million to upgrade the mill’s boiler, part of a plan to have the mill sell excess electricity during winter months, according to Catalyst’s 2015 annual report.

The Maine Pulp and Paper Association, which noted that pulp and paper products are the top export from Maine, stated in the article that "we cannot lose sight of the importance of this industry to this state. The restart of Catalyst Rumford’s No.12 machine reinvigorates our stance that pulp and papermaking in Maine is alive and well, and offers a great example of how paper mills are able to respond to shifting market conditions to invigorate their product mix, manufacturing process, and infrastructure for the betterment of their operations, workers and Maine’s economy." 


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