Sappi Fine Paper North America said that it will permanently cease operations at its coated fine paper mill in Muskegon, Michigan. The closure of the mill will affect approximately 190 salaried and hourly Muskegon employees, who have been on furlough since the mill was idled April 1, 2009.
A single paper machine had been in operation at the mill prior to April 1. The machine,PM5, has an annual production capacity of 170,000 tons of text and cover weight coated woodfree papers.
“The global economic downturn has resulted in very weak demand for coated fine paper worldwide,” said Ralph Boettger, CEO of Sappi. “In North America, industry conditions remain very challenging, with current year to date shipments of coated wood free paper down 32 percent from 2007 levels and only modest recovery forecast for 2010.
“The permanent closure of Muskegon Mill, while an extremely difficult decision to make, is necessary to ensure that we remain competitive in today’s global marketplace. This decision is in line with our commitment to substantially improve Sappi’s profitability and returns in all our businesses,” Boettger said.
Sappi said the closure of the Muskegon Mill will not affect the product lines offered by the company. Products previously made at Muskegon have been and will continue to be manufactured at Sappi’s other paper mills in Skowhegan, Maine and Cloquet, Minnesota, the company noted.