Opal Australian Paper makes its last ream of Reflex

By Peter Roberts

Opal Australian Paper has made its last ream of its popular Reflex brand copy paper with the formal announcement of the permanent closure of the company’s Maryvale mill in Victoria.

Making good on warnings made last month, the company conceded it had not been able to solve the issue of a supply of timber from VicForests to the mill, which would be closed with the likely loss of32 jobs.

Last financial year it produced 116,000 tonnes of copy paper for the domestic market, plus 88,000 tonnes for export.

While the loss of employment and the ballooning trade deficit in manufactures is a worry, the bigger body blow is that another area of Australian self sufficiency in a basic manufacturing has been lost.

This adds to a litany of losses of discrete capability ranging from car assembly to nappy production, to the loss of almost entire sectors such as our textile, clothing and footwear sector.

Yet the federal government has been largely silent on the latest loss, and there is no recent mention of it on the media release page for the Victorian Agriculture Minister Gayle Tierney.

As recently as May last year the company’s owner Nippon Paper was bullish and on the front foot about the future of the mill.

Not the company has announced: “Despite our best endeavours, Opal has been unable to source viable alternative wood supplies to replace the shortfall from VicForests.

“As a result of this situation, Maryvale Mill produced its last ream of copy paper on 21 January 2023.

“Given this unplanned situation and after significant consideration and analysis of a range of potential operating scenarios, Opal has made the final decision to stop the manufacturing of white pulp and paper at the Maryvale Mill.

“As a result, although the Maryvale Mill will no longer produce white paper, it will continue to manufacture brown paper and board to supply Opal’s Packaging Division.”

Opal has begun consultations in preparation for a redeployment phase for those workers affected.

“Opal will now strengthen its core strategy as an integrated manufacturer of cardboard fibre packaging in Australia and New Zealand.

“Opal is committed to working closely with our key stakeholders to achieve a successful turnaround at the Maryvale Mill by transforming the site to meet the growing need for fibre packaging in Australia and New Zealand.

“It is now important to re-set the Maryvale Mill over the long-term as a sustainable, profitable and focused packaging manufacturing site within the integrated Opal business.”

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Picture: Opal Australian Paper

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