More Mill Downtime for NewPage

NewPage Corp., the top producer of coated freesheet paper in North America, announced Oct. 13 it plans to take about 160,000 tons of market-related downtime in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Specific operating and curtailment plans are still being developed and will be implemented across the flexible NewPage mill system to best satisfy customer commitments, according to a release. This plan is expected to include the indefinite shutdown of the No. 63 paper machine at the Whiting, WI, mill.

“We continue to operate in a very challenging environment, and remain committed to running our operations efficiently as we balance production and demand,” said Rick Willet, president/CEO of New Page, in a statement. “Though we are announcing that No. 63 paper machine will be curtailed in fourth quarter, we will continue to support our lightweight coated groundwood customers at the Biron, WI, and Rumford, ME, mills, where we recently expanded our capabilities to produce these products.”

Miamisburg, OH-based NewPage Corp. and other U.S. coated paper manufacturers have struggled in the face of surging low-priced imports from China and Indonesia, on top of the general economic downturn, the release said. “The domestic market has eroded because of unfair trade practices which have forced U.S. producers to take market-related downtime as well as close numerous paper machines, resulting in thousands of job losses.”

As a result, NewPage, along with other U.S. paper producers and the United Steelworkers (USW), recently filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases covering certain types of coated paper that are being imported into the U.S. from China and Indonesia in violation of international trade rules.

“We are hopeful that the trade cases will restore a level playing field in the market for coated papers,” Willett said. NewPage plans to restart the No. 63 machine in Whiting, as well as the No. 10 machine in Rumford, ME, that was idled in September, “as soon as market conditions allow,” he said.