British Columbia

B.C. pulp and paper mill will pause production due to supply chain problems

The Catalyst pulp and paper mill in Crofton, B.C., will be shut down for two weeks in November to ease supply-chain related congestion.

Paper Excellence was supposed to export product on the MV Zim Kingston

Catalyst Crofton, the integrated pulp and paper mill in Crofton, B.C., will pause production for two weeks in November. (CBC)

A pulp and paper mill on Vancouver Island will halt production for two weeks in November because of congestion in the global supply chain. 

Catalyst Crofton manufactures and exports paper products like newsprint as well as the pulp used to make printing and writing paper. But like many other companies, it's facing logistical delays. 

"It's crazy, and we haven't seen anything like this before, for a long, long, time," said Graham Kissack, vice president of environment, health and safety, and corporate communications with Paper Excellence, Catalyst's parent company.

"Like a lot of other people that are trying to either bring product into Canada or export it out, there's congestion everywhere."

In some cases, Kissack says it's not congestion that's the problem, but containers. He says there's isn't always access to "intermodal cans," containers used by exporters that can be moved easily between trucks, trains and ships.  

The company also had export space booked on the MV Zim Kingston, the ship that lost more than 100 containers amid bad weather over the weekend.

To avoid some of those shipping problems, Catalyst says they are pausing production between Nov. 9 and 24.

The mill's boiler needs maintenance, says Kissack, so they'll have that work completed during the curtailment to make the best use of the time.

He says the company, which employs 590 people in Crofton, B.C., is encouraging employees to take their paid vacation during those two weeks.

They are also trying to find other work opportunities for staff during the curtailment, but it's possible that some will be without work and without pay.

Geoff Dawe, union president of the Public and Private Workers of Canada PPWC Local 2, used an expletive when asked to comment on the situation. 

"It is a company decision, that our members have to pay for. It's unfortunate to be facing this decision to curtail at this time," he said.

Dawe says he has suggested several things workers could do at the mill when production has stopped, and he's waiting to hear back from the company.