Opal paper may permanently halt copy paper production

Opal Australian Paper is considering permanently shutting down the production of white paper used commonly for business documents and copying due to a wood shortage affecting its Maryvale, Victoria paper mill (pictured).

The Japanese owned company has temporarily stopped manufacturing its Reflex brand paper, according to a report on ABC news, due to a lack of supply from VicForests.

The company has not committed to closing production, which would mean all office paper was imported, but said in a statement that it had been working to address a shortfall in VicForests supply.

“To be viable the alternative supplies must match a range of strict criteria including species, availability, volume, cost, logistics and long-term supply.

“Opal has been considering a number of different operational scenarios for the longer term, in case possible alternative wood sources are below the volumes required or are not commercially feasible.

“Despite our best endeavours, Opal has been unable to source viable alternative wood supplies to replace the VicForests shortfall.

“As a result, we are now seriously considering the potential future closure of white side operations at the Maryvale Mill and are consulting with our team members on this scenario.”

The Maryvale Mill opened in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley in 1937 and has since grown to be one of the largest employers in the region, manufacturing close to 600,000 tonnes of paper and board annually.

Opal said that it was consulting extensively with its Maryvale team members, and had made no operational decisions ‘at this stage’.

“We remain focused on securing the future of the Maryvale site which has a key role to play in manufacturing paper for the Opal Packaging Division.

“Opal continues to engage in active discussions with the Victorian Government and union representatives about this situation.

“We have reached an agreement with the Victorian Government ensuring that until mid-February Opal team members who may be stood down will receive full pay.

“This is intended to provide certainty for Opal team members while the company and the Victorian Government progress discussions on any further support for the Mill’s future operations.”

The company also operates an Employee Assistance Program and other support services, and the Victorian Government has established a new Worker Support Service to help those affected by potential stand downs and operational changes.

“While the current situation is difficult for everyone, Opal remains committed to keeping our team members, customers and key stakeholders updated on further developments.

“We are continuing to work diligently with a view to providing clarity for our team members as soon as practicable.”

Picture: opalanz.com.au

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