ns-pictou-mill

The mill in Pictou County will continue to be run by the same managers. ((CBC))

A pulp mill in Pictou County has a new owner, which will ensure the operation stays open at least for now and its 300 employees won't be out of work.

Neenah Paper announced Thursday it was handing over the mill near Pictou to Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp., along with up to $20 million to help cover the mill's liabilities.

The deal, expected to be finalized soon, keeps the same management team in place.

"I believe the way this transaction is structured, it's going to give us a real good chance to survive and get through this period," said general manager Keith Johnson. "We are fairly encouraged about the long-term prospects of this industry."

About 300 people work at the mill or in the woodland operations.

Johnson would not say what employment levels would be in a year but said the new company will look for ways to cut its labour costs.

The pulp and paper industry has been hit hard by a rising Canadian dollar and power costs, with mills in many parts of Canada shutting down.

Premier Rodney MacDonald applauded the Neenah deal, saying the fact the mill will remain open is a good sign.

"Our four major mills, both in Queens County and the Strait with Minas Basin, have all managed to make it through a very, very difficult time," MacDonald said. "It's a very positive thing for the employees and their families."

The Pictou County mill produces more than 270,000 tonnes of pulp a year.

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp. is owned by Atlas Holdings LLC and Blue Wolf Capital Management, two American equity firms.