Slow market to again close local IP mill

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2000

International Paper will shut down production at the Vicksburg Mill for a third time in 2000, and officials said the reason is to allow the inventory of kraft linerboard to catch up with soft demand for the product.

Ray McLaurin, human resource manager for IP’s operations near Redwood, said the plan is to have the whole mill idled by Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day. The mill will reopen Dec. 3.

“We are having to curtail operations for the same reason as before,” McLaurin said. “Inventory adjustment.”

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In earlier shutdowns this year, no definite reopening date was announced. The first shutdown was in June when officials sent about 250 of the 365 employees home. Not long after the employees returned to work, the mill had to be shut down again, on Aug. 20, when acid was discovered in the power-generating boilers at the plant. Although that halt could have kept the mill closed for a couple of days, company officials decided it should remain closed for about two weeks to aid in inventory reduction. About 250 people were idled then, also.

McLaurin said it was indefinite how many people will be laid off this time because some may be moved from production to other, ongoing projects.

“We are going to be doing some capital changes and we will keep as many people working on that as we can,” he said.

Mill officials are deciding now just what tasks need to be performed and how many people will be needed to do them.

“We should have a number of the people who will be laid off by Friday,” McLaurin said.

When layoffs take place, most of the people affected are in production and most of the office staff and enough people to maintain the security of the facility remain at work.

The kraft linerboard made at the Vicksburg mill is used in making corrugated shipping containers. The local mill also makes a substance called tall oil which is used as a raw material in the manufacture of a wide variety of products.