West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. said Wednesday it would permanently shut its Eurocan paper mill in Kitimat, B.C., putting more than 500 people out of work.

The closure will take effect on Jan. 31, 2010.

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West Fraser 3-month chart

Vancouver-based West Fraser blamed the closure on a rising Canadian dollar and the recession's impact on the forestry sector. After years of cost cuts and reviews of Eurocan's operations, closing the mill was "the only reasonable alternative," said West Fraser CEO Hank Ketcham.

"We deeply regret the impact the mill closure will have on our 535 employees, their families and the community, and we will ensure those who are affected are treated with fairness and respect," Ketcham said in a news release.

The 40-year-old mill produces linerboard and kraft paper, which are used for cardboard boxes and packaging.