TERRACE BAY, Ont. — The operator of the pulp mill at Terrace Bay has quietly set aside its plan to convert the facility to produce dissolving grade pulp for manufacturing rayon.
AV Terrace Bay's parent company, India-based Aditya Birla Group, is betting that – at least for now – continuing to make northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp is more likely to ensure the mill's long-term stability.
When it acquired the mill in 2012, Aditya Birla planned to spend $250 million over two years on a conversion from production of NBSK.
But in a statement issued this week, the company said "given the current market conditions of dissolving grade pulp, there is no immediate plan to convert the mill."
Nonetheless, AV Terrace Bay is still spending significant sums on upgrades.
Spokesperson Darin Guzzell told Tbnewswatch the company has already invested $114 million, and is currently in the middle of another big capital project, the installation of a $9 million dollar lime kiln.
The kiln was manufactured in India, transported to Thunder Bay by ship, and trucked to Terrace Bay
Guzzell, the company's manager of human resources, said this project alone has provided work for about 85 people associated with the installation.
More than 360 people work at the mill, which also supports 375 additional jobs in forestry operations that provide fibre.
The company has woodlands operations offices in both Thunder Bay and Longlac.
Guzzell said AV Terrace Bay currently has about 20 vacancies in various positions in the mill.
As veteran members of the workforce there retire, the company is trying to recruit workers from across the region, including people laid off from Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant.
"We're in the hiring mode. We have a number of people who worked their whole careers here...we're seeing that wave of baby-boomers who are going out."
Guzzell said AV Terrace Bay is also looking to hire about 80 people for various assignments in the mill during a scheduled two-week shutdown coming up next month.
The company's collective agreements with the Steelworkers and the IBEW are in place until 2022.
Aditya Birla Group is a Forbes Magazine Fortune 500 company, with annual revenue of more than $40 billion U.S.