Saskatchewan

Minister asks Weyerhaeuser for more time

Saskatchewan's minister responsible for forestry is asking Weyerhaeuser to delay closing its Prince Albert pulp mill.

Saskatchewan's minister responsible for forestry is asking Weyerhaeuser to delay closing its Prince Albert pulp mill.

Weyerhaeuser announced last October it would be finished with its Prince Albert operations by April. Citing market conditions, it has already shut down its paper plant and plans to shut down the pulp mill. About 700 jobs would be directly lost.

But cabinet minister and Prince Albert Northcote MLA Eldon Lautermilch says Weyerhaeuser should hold off. He says there are companies interested in the mill but more time is needed to close a deal than the April deadline permits.

"We think that there's an opportunity to work together with Weyerhaeuser as we work towards finalizing a sale with potential new owners," he said. "The progress has been slow. Much slower than we wanted."

Lautermilch wouldn't commit to an exact time frame for the extension but suggested two or three months.

However, Weyerhaeuser spokesperson Wayne Roznowsky said the possibility of keeping the mill open past April is remote.

He said no potential buyer has even come to look at the mill since the fall announcement.

"Since it was announced in October, there's been another half dozen mills in Canada that have had similar announcements," he said. "Some of the … logically potential buyers are in the midst of closing their own mills right now."

Some companies have expressed interest, but none has made a serious offer, he said.

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