VANCOUVER, Feb. 13 /CNW/ - Catalyst Paper (TSX:CTL) announced a
$12 million capital upgrade and the restart, by mid-year, of the No. 4 paper
machine at its Port Alberni mill. The investment in the mill's
thermo-mechanical pulp facility and restart of the machine was approved by the
company's Board of Directors today. The Board also approved a $14 million
early retirement and severance package associated with a new labour agreement.
This step follows months of discussions with community and local union
leaders on actions required to improve the mill's business climate and cost
"The two union locals - CEP 592 and 686 - are to be commended for
reaching a landmark agreement that puts in place modern work practices and
brings labour costs to competitive industry levels," said Richard Garneau,
president and chief executive officer of Catalyst Paper. "Knowing we have the
support of our employees means we can move forward with the thermo-mechanical
capacity increase project and return to a two-machine mill, with a
significantly improved cost structure."
Catalyst indefinitely curtailed PM4 - its highest cost machine - on
September 1, 2007. This followed repeated appeals to major stakeholders to
change business conditions, including bringing the mill's property taxes in
line with competitive jurisdictions. As the city's largest taxpayer, the
Catalyst paper mill paid $7.1 million in 2007, approximately three times the
Canadian average and more than twice the BC average in property tax per tonne.
Port Alberni's city council has approved a gradual reduction of major
industry property taxes over five years.
"We acknowledge this is a first step, but we remind civic leaders that to
be competitive today, our annual municipal tax bill in Port Alberni should be
$2 million less than it is now," Mr. Garneau said. "We are looking to senior
levels of government to also act on this critical tax issue to help
municipalities improve the hosting conditions to attract industries."
Catalyst is a leading producer of mechanical printing papers in North
America, headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia. The company also
produces market kraft pulp and owns Western Canada's largest paper recycling
facility. With five mills at sites within a 160-kilometre radius on the south
coast of BC, Catalyst has a combined annual capacity of 2.4 million tonnes of
product. Catalyst's common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under
the symbol CTL.
For further information:
For further information: Lyn Brown, Vice-President, Corporate Relations,