If an unconfirmed radio report Tuesday that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper mill is closing for five months this summer proves to be accurate, it will be just the latest in a series of negative developments at the once-mighty facility.
Workers and the city are used to the mill taking downtime to balance order books and stockpiles, but turning off the massive newsprint-making machines for more than a month is a rarity — maybe unprecedented.
Last week, the mill took another hit when workers turned down the company’s request to change the amount of time it would get to pay up a shortfall in the pension plan.
Kruger had made it clear before the vote that the approval was a critical part in keeping the mill competitive.
Not long before that, dozens of workers were laid off in an attempt to cut costs.
There is little doubt the operation is on a razor’s edge when it comes to being profitable and staying open.
The whole newsprint industry has been contracting for a number of years and the Corner Brook mill is among the few that have kept operating despite the global setbacks.
Even the strong Canadian dollar is conspiring against its profitability.
Just his week a number of newspapers in Canada and the U.S. announced the would be dropping Sunday editions and printing fewer editions during the week.
Those cutbacks all mean they will need less and less newsprint as the rush to digital gains momentum.
A critical juncture may now have been reached at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.
The reality of permanent closure may be moving away from the hypothetical and closer to reality.