Nova Scotia mill deal delayed but not dead, official says

Posted Sept. 20, 2012, at 7:35 p.m.

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Despite a delay in releasing details on a restructured deal that is expected to allow Pacific West to buy and reopen the Port Hawkesbury paper mill, Nova Scotia’s natural resources minister said Thursday the deal is still on track.

Last Friday, after news that Canada Revenue Agency had rejected a request from Pacific West that would have lowered its power bill, Charlie Parker, Nova Scotia’s minister of natural resources, said the province would restructure its pre-existing package of $124.5 million in loans and other assistance to sweeten the deal. At the time, he said the details would be available early this week.

When the details never came, people began to wonder if the deal had hit a snag. But Parker tried to dispel those rumors in a statement released today.

“The province acted quickly following the CRA ruling and we have the basics of the deal in place,” Parker said. “We were hopeful to have the details finalized and papers prepared this week but, to be fair, it’s a complicated process and both sides are doing their due diligence. Once the details are finalized, we will announce them.”

Pacific West, the company attempting to buy the mill from NewPage, said last Friday that the CRA ruling would not doom its plan to buy and reopen the mill. According to its website, the company says it’s still on track to reopen the mill by the end of September.

Maine’s paper industry is watching the events unfold in Nova Scotia with interest, as the restart of the Port Hawkesbury paper mill with the help of significant government assistance would put the Nova Scotia mill in direct competition with some Maine mills that produce the same type of paper.

The Maine mill that would be most affected by the restart of the Port Hawkesbury paper mill is UPM’s mill in Madison, which produces 220,000 tons of paper a year and employs about 240 people, mill manager Russ Drechsel told the Bangor Daily News. Both mills produce the same grade of supercalendered paper used for glossy magazines and catalogs.

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