Nova Scotia

30 arrive at NewPage to ready mill for restart

A maintenance team arrived at the former NewPage paper mill in Port Hawkesbury Monday to get the machines ready to make paper again.
Peter MacDonald, head of the maintenance team at NewPage, said there is a buzz of excitement in the air. (CBC)

A team of 30 maintenance workers arrived at the former NewPage paper mill in Port Hawkesbury Monday to get the machines ready to make paper again.

Approval from the Canada Revenue Agency is the final hurdle to jump for Pacific West Commercial Corporation if it is to take over the mill and begin producing high-grade glossy paper.

The company is confident the deal meets all CRA rules and that's why it is ramping up now.

The maintenance team added to the roughly 110 people who have been there for the past year keeping the mill in its "hot idle" state.

Peter MacDonald heads the maintenance team and says he welcomes the arrival of new workers.

"I feel awesome, it's really exciting and we just can't wait to go, the production team and the maintenance team that are here are just vibrating, ready to push the button and go," MacDonald said.

"I think it shows that we're trying to put our best foot forward and trying to have the mill ready as quickly as possible when we get the decision from the CRA," said Heidi Boudreau, one of the maintenance workers.

The hope is the mill will be ready to go in time to fill orders for the busy pre-Christmas catalogue and flyer season.

"Every aspect of the operation has to be ramped up, so we've got people on the paper machine changing out rolls, moving rolls, cleaning rolls, cleaning the machine, changing hoses so that it's ready to go," said Marc Dube, an executive with Pacific West.

Most of the work is focused on the $650-million machine that produces top-grade glossy paper.

MacDonald says what is being done this week should have been done a year ago.

"What we're actually doing now is some maintenance work that had been planned for last September before we shut down," MacDonald said. "That was put off, so these are things that have to be done to make the machine ready to go in full production."

The paper maker can be ready to roll in two weeks, MacDonald said.

Pacific West says it expects a favorable CRA ruling in that time.

For now, officials with Pacific West say they will continue to get the mill ready and try to bring back millworkers who found jobs in Alberta during the shutdown, which started last September.