Saturday, May 26, 2007

NEWS: Woodlands manager paints grim picture of mill future

Woodlands manager paints grim picture of mill future CBPP mill being put in precarious position says Tompkins

If Corner Brook Pulp and Paper keeps losing land to environmental and tourism concerns, it’s going to end up like the ill-fated Stephenville mill.That was the main message delivered by CBPP woodlands manager Pat Tompkins at Thursday’s Deer Lake Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting.

Tompkins said the mill is having a hard enough time struggling with the increased value of the Canadian dollar and the shrinking demands for newsprint in its major export zones. To make matters worse, the cost of its woodlands operations have skyrocketed in recent years. Tompkins said that puts the mill in a precarious position.“Over the past five years, we’ve seen a 27 per cent decline in newsprint demand from the United States,” Tompkins said.“It looks like 2007, from industry projections, is going to be the worst on record ...To cope with the recent decline in demand, the Canadian newsprint industry has shut down 20 per cent of its operations, and now, it will have to shut down one million tonnes of operations to deal with the declines in 2007.“Somebody else is going to go down this year and we’re just hoping it isn’t us.”To put it in perspective, Tompkins said industry figures link 250 direct jobs are lost for every 100,000 tonne decline in newsprint demand. A further 625 spinoff and indirect jobs are lost as well.He said CBPP is always looking for ways to cut costs.

However, the company is being hurt by its collective agreement, which Tompkins pointed out is the most costly in the Atlantic region, and the rising costs of harvesting wood. The company saw the cost of its woods operations jump 25 percent between 1998 and 2004.Tompkins attributes much of that to the restrictions being placed on the operation by tourism operations and environmental restrictions.

Tompkins said the company has had to refuse all remote cabin requests that have come across its desk in recent years because it can’t afford to lose any more land. With projects like the Humber Valley Resort and the Humber Valley view shed cutting restrictions cramping the company’s plans, the future looks bleak according to Tompkins. “We can’t have every tourism operation that springs up shutting down more of our land.
FULL STORY - Western Star

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