PRODUCTION will cease at the Boyer mill for three weeks over the next three months to help the company ride out the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant decline in demand for newsprint and magazine-grade paper and the situation is not expected to change until the Australian economy improves and companies start advertising again.
Norske Skog’s Boyer Mill near New Norfolk is the sole producer of newsprint and magazine grades in Australia, and has shouldered the brunt of the decline in demand this year. A company spokesman said this had so far been managed by taking some downtime on the factory’s two paper machines and having workers take paid leave.
“However, with stocks building and paper sales not improving further action is necessary to protect the mill’s long-term future,” the spokesman said. “The decision has therefore been made to take three weeks of simultaneous downtime on both paper machines during the last week of July, August and September.
“Employees will be stood down during these periods and will receive the JobKeeper Allowance. It’s a tough decision, but much better than having people lose their jobs. Hopefully the Australian economy can recover towards Christmas, but until it does then we need to monitor things very carefully and match production with demand.”
The Boyer mill produced Australia’s first newsprint in 1941 and is one of the state’s major employers. The mill produces about 290,000 tonnes of paper each year, for newspapers, magazines, books and catalogues from certified plantation radiata pine.