The shutdown at Espanola’s Domtar Mill is expected to end this month.

The outage, which only affects the pulp mill, began in May and was only expected to last three weeks.

According to Domtar regional public affairs manager Bonny Skene: “The Espanola mill underwent an extensive audit and inspection of major components during its planned maintenance outage in May. We have decided to extend the outage and take the opportunity to do some of the work that will prepare the mill for its revitalization plan.”

During this time, the paper machines have continued to operate.

In an email to the Mid North Monitor, Skene said: “Maintenance and repair work is being completed to prepare the mill for its revitalization plan.”

In April, Domtar had announced plans to modernize and streamline the Espanola facility with a $58 million project which would result in 70 jobs lost through normal attrition and retirements.

“We have developed a plan to simplify and modernize operations at the Espanola pulp and paper mill which will prepare the facility for capital projects over the next three years,” said Skene at the time.

Skene said the mill production is being simplified by consolidating the fibre production line from two to one bleach plant and reducing batch digesters from five to three to improve the mill’s sustainability over the long-term.

In July, the Espanola mill received $28.8 million from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to assist Domtar with the modernization project.

“We are pleased to partner with the Government of Canada in a recently announced $58 million project to streamline the mill and install new equipment to support innovation and the continued product development with a focus on alternatives to single-use plastics,” said Skene.

“It will further strengthen the mill’s competitive cost position in the global market, reduce waste from production, improve environmental performance all which help secure good jobs in northern Ontario.”

Aside from the 70 jobs which are not being replaced which leaves a workforce of 430, there were no layoffs as a result of the shutdown.

The Espanola mill manufactures pulp and specialty papers. The mill draws raw material (wood fibre) from approximately 40 small communities across northern Ontario which host sawmilling and harvesting operations.