The McKinley Paper Co. plant in Port Angeles is seen shuttered in November 2017. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The McKinley Paper Co. plant in Port Angeles is seen shuttered in November 2017. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

McKinley Paper plans to start production in September 2019 at Port Angeles mill

PORT ANGELES — McKinley Paper Co. has announced that it will start production in September 2019, ending a curtailment for the mill on Ediz Hook that began in April 2017.

Company officials announced late Monday plans to produce 250,000 tons of containerboard at the Port Angeles mill, increasing its domestic capacity to 500,000 tons and bringing its total annual capacity to 2 million tons in Mexico and the U.S.

McKinley purchased the mill from Japanese-owned Nippon Paper Industries USA for $20.6 million in March 2017.

The company is retooling the 98-year-old factory to manufacture containerboard from recycled cardboard, a heavier grade paper than the newsprint and directory paper that Nippon produced.

“McKinley will replicate its sustainability model to produce paper without cutting trees in the middle of the forest heart of USA: The state of Washington, contributing to further enhancing the environmental status in the region,” according to a company announcement.

“By recycling paper, the company aims to reduce energy and water consumption and landfill disposal in the region as well as to become a net capturer of CO2, helping to build a green economy.”

Plans to reopen the mill in December 2018 were put on hold last February.

Nippon employed 150 workers.

The city of Port Angeles received about $500,000 per year in electric utility taxes when the Nippon mill was in operation.

McKinley has ordered “state-of-the-art” machinery and equipment for the startup, company officials said.

“Maritime infrastructure will be enhanced to improve input and output freight options and minimize costs,” the McKinley announcement said.

“Additionally, the cogeneration system will be upgraded to efficiently produce green energy.

“We expect to start production by September 2019 and look forward to positively impact local and regional employment and the overall economy.

“The company would consider additional investments and strategic alliances in the Northwest USA to deploy a corrugated box system to integrate its paper production into more value-added paper products.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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