Opal Australian Paper is closing the M2 machine that manufactured white and brown packaging paper at its Maryvale Mill in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. “Opal has commenced consultation with our affected team members," it said.
Earlier this year, Opal closed Maryvale’s paper machine M5 - which made copy paper including market-leading Reflex - following a Supreme Court decision that forced pulp supplier VicForests to scale back harvesting in endangered possum habitats.
Opal last month slammed a Victorian government decision to end all native forest logging in December 2023, six years earlier than planned.
In an update, the company, owned by Nippon Paper Group, said it's decided to close M2 at Maryvale but the M1, M3 and M4 machines would continue to produce brown paper and board for the A/NZ fibre packaging market.
“Unfortunately, the lack of VicForests supply means Maryvale Mill has insufficient wood to continue to manufacture any white paper products," Opal said. "As a result of the end of VicForests supply, and following previous team member consultation, Opal has decided to close M2 which is the smallest machine on site, previously manufacturing both white and brown packaging paper.
“This situation will lead to changes in our manufacturing program, for example, we are continuing to work towards the future transfer of some brown M2 products to the M3 machine. We have targeted the closure of M2 to take effect in late August, but this timing will be informed by a number of considerations, including customer discussions.
“Opal has commenced consultation with our affected team members and their representatives on the impact of this decision. The health, safety and wellbeing of our team members remains a core focus and Opal is providing additional support through our Employee Assistance Program and other onsite services at the Maryvale Mill.
“Although the Maryvale Mill is no longer producing white paper, M1, M3 and M4 will continue to make brown paper and board for the growing fibre packaging market in Australia and New Zealand.
“Despite the heavy financial burden from this unplanned situation, Opal is seeking a successful transition of the Maryvale Mill into a commercially sustainable manufacturing operation.
“Opal appreciates the difficulties of the current situation and is committed to keeping our team members, customers and key stakeholders updated on further developments.”