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Chantiers Chibougamau Plans to Restart Lebel-Sur-Quévillon Kraft Pulp Mill in 2020

Lebel Sur Quevillon pulp mill Chantiers Chibougamau plans to start production at the Lebel-sur-Quévillon mill before summer 2020. The mill's production capacity will be about 300,000 tonnes per year of softwood kraft pulp.

Nov. 13, 2019 - Canadian forest products producer Chantiers Chibougamau said that it plans to restart the Lebel-Sur-Quévillon kraft pulp mill in Quebec by the summer of 2020.

Chantiers Chibougamau bought the idled mill from Nexolia Bioenergy Inc. in 2018.

Chantiers Chibougamau spokesman Frédéric Verreault told PaperAge that the company expects production to begin before summer 2020 and that the mill's production capacity will be about 300,000 tonnes per year of softwood kraft pulp.

History of the Lebel-sur-Quévillon Mill

Operations at the Lebel-sur-Quévillon mill were stopped on November 24, 2005 by then-owner Domtar, who at that time cited “unfavorable economic conditions.” In December of 2008, Domtar announced the permanent closure of the pulp mill. The mill had an annual production capacity of 300,000 tons of softwood kraft pulp and employed some 425 workers.

Domtar sold the mill to Fortress Paper in June of 2012. Fortress had planned to convert the non-operating kraft pulp mill into a low cost, high quality dissolving pulp mill with an annual production capacity of approximately 236,000 air-dried metric tons. Completion of the project was expected in late 2013.

However, in November of 2013, China's Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM") announced a preliminary determination to impose an interim duty on the import of Canadian dissolving pulp into China, which was the undoing of Fortress Paper's plan convert the mill's production.

In October of 2014, Fortress Paper announced, “. . . the 23.7% duty imposed on new dissolving pulp mills in Canada has effectively frozen expansion in the once-growing industry, including the company's indefinite suspension of the dissolving pulp conversion project at its Fortress Global Cellulose Mill located in Lebel-sur-Quevillon, Québec.”

In July of 2016, Fortress Paper sold the Lebel-Sur-Quévillon mill to Nexolia Bioenergy.

Government of Quebec to Own Minority Stake

Mr. Verreault confirmed that the government of Quebec will own a minority stake in the mill and is financing about 40 percent of Chantiers Chibougamau's $342 million investment, including a 10-year loan for $120 million. He said that the mill will employ about 300 people.

According to Chantiers Chibougamau, the Lebel-sur-Quévillon mill has been renamed Nordic Kraft, joining the company's portfolio of Nordic-branded operations.

SOURCE: Chantiers Chibougamau