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A mill owned by Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Ltd. is closing in Hantsport and laying off 135 employees. (CBC)

A mill owned by Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Ltd. is closing in Hantsport and laying off 135 employees — including company president Scott Travers — effective Dec. 1.

Competitive pressures and rising costs are believed to be the reasons for the layoffs. Forty affected employees will be offered work at the company's sister plant in Hantsport, Canadian Keys Fibre.

West Hants MLA Chuck Porter received a copy of a letter that was circulated to employees. He said he knows it's a big loss for the people in his riding.

"My thoughts today are with the workers and their families who have received terrible news," said Porter. "We've now lost hundreds of jobs in the Valley. We need to get serious, what is the plan now, what does jobs here mean."

The layoff news was foreshadowed by the layoff of about a dozen workers a year ago, which the company blamed on higher power rates. Opposition politicians were quick to jump on the issue on Thursday, but the premier said that's not what he was told by a Minas Basin executive.

"I did ask him that question," said Premier Darrell Dexter. "He said it was not a decisive factor."

The mill in Hantsport has a long history. It was founded in 1927 by the late Roy A. Jodrey.

In the beginning, the family-owned and operated company produced a single product — groundwood pulp — and added paperboard capacity in 1946. Minas Basin now produces 100 per cent recycled paperboard products such as linerboard and coreboard and has a production capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes per year.