Sappi expansion could add 200 jobs in CloquetThe Sappi paper mill in Cloquet would nearly triple production of coated paper without producing more pulp or cutting more trees under a proposal made public Monday.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
The Sappi paper mill in Cloquet would nearly triple production of coated paper without producing more pulp or cutting more trees under a proposal made public Monday.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Sappi is proposing expanding the Cloquet plant with a new paper-processing machine and a new natural gas-fired boiler.
The project would increase production to more than 1 million tons annually from 340,000 tons per year.
The new paper machine would require 100 to 200 additional workers at the mill, which employs about 760, according to the agency’s environmental assessment worksheet on the expansion.
The mill would not increase pulp production and doesn’t require any additional timber harvesting, the agency said. But it still is subject to environmental review because of an increase in air emissions and the size of the expansion.
Kevin Kain, the state agency’s project manager, said Sappi will use pulp it sells on the open market to feed the increase in paper production.
“They would stop selling pulp and make more paper,” Kain said.
While the paper industry has seen a marked slowdown during the global recession, Kain said, Sappi officials appear to be moving to obtain environmental permits “for when the economy improves and they decide to go ahead.”
Sappi officials declined to comment on project details. The company “continually assesses strategic options for profitable growth,” spokeswoman Amy Olson said in a prepared statement. The permit application “pertains to one such option — a new paper machine that would enhance the Cloquet mill’s production capacity for high-quality and affordable coated paper products for the North American market.”
The project would convert the mill’s former on-site tree nursery into a wood-storage yard and require the rerouting of Avenue B in Cloquet.
In addition to an amended air pollution permit, the project would need water-use permits, an agreement to send more effluent to the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and city building permits. The company also is expected to file for a tax-exemption status under the state’s JOBZ District program.
The expansion is expected to increase carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions into the air but not to the level considered “significant” under federal regulations.