Pulp mill in Prince Albert switching to diaper material
New tariff imposed by China changes business plan
A Prince Albert pulp mill is dramatically changing its business plan because of an import tariff set by China.
The company, Paper Excellence, bought the mill two years ago with a plan to produce a product called dissolving pulp.
China, however, has imposed a high tariff on the product effectively eliminating that country as a potential market.
Now, officials from the mill say they will retool and produce fluff pulp, which is a key component of disposal diapers.
Dale Paterson, vice-president of operations for the mill, said Tuesday that changing to a different product will be a challenge.
"A lot of us in our company now have to dedicate the time to ensure that happens," Paterson told CBC News. "We have to compress it because we want to have this operation still operating in 16 to 18 months."
Paterson said setting up as a producer of fluff pulp will be less expensive than operating as a producer of dissolving pulp. However, the dissolving pulp market — before the tariff came into play — was more lucrative.
"The equipment is not as complicated as dissolving pulp," Paterson said. "But we have a lot of hours of work to do to put this mill into operation because we do not want to leave it one minute longer than we have to because the mill has already been down for six or seven years."
Paterson said the mill still expects to employ about 250 workers once it is fully operational.