MONTREAL, Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Resolute Forest Products (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) today announced the indefinite idling of the kraft mill and paper machine number 5 (PM5) at its pulp and paper operation in Fort Frances, Ontario. The kraft mill has an annual production capacity of approximately 200,000 metric tons of market pulp, while PM5 has an annual capacity of 105,000 metric tons of groundwood specialty printing papers.
"The markets for these products are challenging and are expected to remain so. The kraft mill situation is particularly difficult given Fort Frances' operating configuration and the recent decision by a key customer to stop consuming the pulp supplied by Resolute to its mill," said Resolute's President and Chief Executive Officer, Richard Garneau. "Our kraft mill's drying capacity is limited to about 40 percent of its production capacity, making it impossible to continue operating the mill in a profitable manner."
Resolute is exploring alternative product possibilities for its Fort Frances pulp mill, which will be idled in a manner that will protect the equipment.The idling of PM5 is driven by the decrease in consumption as well as the high value of the Canadian dollar. "We will monitor market conditions closely and work with key stakeholders to explore ways to improve the mill's cost position," added Garneau. The running down of fiber inventories and orderly shutdown of the Fort Frances kraft mill is expected to be completed by late November. PM5 will also continue to operate until late November. Approximately 239 employees will be impacted by the idling. Resolute Forest Products will work with affected employees, all levels of government and other local authorities on programs to lessen the impact of the idling. Resolute employees affected by this idling will also be considered for job vacancies and opportunities at other Company facilities. In all cases, employees will be treated in accordance with the applicable collective agreements and Provincial legislation.