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UPM permanently idles Chapelle Darblay mill

19 Jun 2020 − 

After weeks of downtime and months of reduced production, the Chapelle Darblay newsprint mill in France will finally close its doors. UPM agreed on a social contract with employees.

UPM arrived at an agreement with employee representatives of the Chapelle Darblay newsprint mill on 15 June and laid down the terms and conditions for the mill’s closure in a social contract. Even though approval from the French government is still pending for the closure to be finalised, the trade union, employees and other persons involved view the agreement as the official end of the road for Chapelle Darblay. The final closure is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

UPM still does not rule out a potential sale of the mill and says that it is open to talks. However, hardly anyone believes that the mill will be sold and kept running after prospective buyer VPK Packaging abandoned plans to buy the mill.

The Chapelle Darblay mill with annual capacity for 235,000 t of newsprint has stood idle since 12 March. Mill operation was initially stopped due to a technical fault but production was never resumed. UPM originally wanted to restart the mill in May, but this did not happen, a spokesperson confirmed. Market conditions are currently very difficult for all types of publication paper. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the structural decline of demand in this sector. The weakness of the market has triggered worldwide production curtailments to eliminate overcapacity from the market.

Once Chapelle Darblay is closed down, Norske Skog with its mill in Golbey will be the only remaining newsprint producer in the country. And even at this site, capacities will be reduced. The company just announced that one of the two paper machines in Golbey will be rebuilt to produce recycled containerboard in the future, with the switch scheduled to take place in 2023. The remaining newsprint machine has a capacity of around 350,000 tpy.

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