Transforming site to meet growing demand for fibre packaging.
Despite its best endeavours, Opal has been unable to source viable alternative wood supplies to replace the shortfall from VicForests.
As a result, the Maryvale mill produced its last ream of copy paper on January 21.
Given this unplanned situation and after significant consideration and analysis of a range of potential operating scenarios, Opal has made the final decision to stop the manufacturing of white pulp and paper at the mill.
“After seriously considering this option and consulting with our team members and unions on this matter, Opal will now consult further on the impact of this final decision,” Opal said in a media release.
“Following that consultation, the process will then move through redeployment considerations and into a redundancy process in accordance with Opal’s legal obligations.”
Opal will now strengthen its core strategy as an integrated manufacturer of cardboard fibre packaging in Australia and New Zealand.
Opal is committed to working closely with its key stakeholders to achieve a successful turnaround at the Maryvale mill by transforming the site to meet the growing need for fibre packaging in Australia and New Zealand.
“It is now important to re-set the Maryvale Mill over the long-term as a sustainable, profitable and focused packaging manufacturing site within the integrated Opal business,” the statement said.
“We are continuing to work with the Victorian government regarding any future support for the mill.”
In addition to Opal’s employee assistance program and other support services, a worker support service has been established by the Victorian government to support Opal Australia Paper team members affected by stand downs and operational changes as may be required.
Opal appreciates that the current situation is difficult for everyone and remains committed to continuing to keep its team members, customers and key stakeholders updated on further developments.
Australian Forest Products Association CEO Joel Fitzgibbon and CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association Deb Kerr said Opal’s decision marked a sad day for Australian manufacturing and the sustainable native forest industries.
“We will continue to remind decision-makers about the importance and sustainability of native forestry,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Our thoughts are with the company and its employees.”
Deb Kerr said the reality now was that all Australia’s white paper would be imported.
“The risk now is many of the things we use on a daily basis that require native timber or fibre could be produced in countries with less robust environmental standards,” she said.
“AFPA and VFPA will continue to educate political leaders, other decision makers and the broader community about the fact that native forestry is sustainable and necessary to create a multitude of different everyday products including floorboards, furniture, structural timbers for housing and paper,” Joel Fitzgibbon concluded.