JAY — Verso Corp. announced Wednesday morning it would permanently shut down its No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment as of Aug. 1 at its Androscoggin Mill. 

The process is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2017.  

“The machine, a recovery boiler and a digester that support it were idled in January in response to declining customer demand that resulted in more coated paper capacity than could be filled,” according to a news release.

The move will reduce the coated paper production at the mill by approximately 200,000 tons.

Most products made on the No. 3 paper machine were transitioned to lower-cost machines in other Verso mills, according to Verso.

“Verso is leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to move the company toward sustained profitability in a market where customer demand for our graphic paper products continues to decline,” B. Christopher DiSantis, Verso chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Consistently matching the supply of our graphic paper products with customer demand for them, dramatically reducing our costs and rapidly diversifying our product portfolio into growing markets are essential keys to Verso’s future success, and we’re relentlessly pursuing all three across the company. Although the footprint of the Androscoggin Mill is getting smaller, we continue to take steps to position the facility as a leading producer for the growing specialty papers market.”

The town was aware of Verso Corp.’s continued effort to bring the No. 3 paper machine  and associated equipment back online, Shiloh LaFreniere, Jay’s town manager said Wednesday.

“Today’s news is disappointing for the company and for our community. Our thoughts are with the affected employees and we remain committed to working with the mill and the community as changes occur,” she said.

“While permanently closing this capacity is the right strategic decision for Verso as a whole, we are mindful of the effects this action will have on the people at the Androscoggin Mill who are directly affected, and we are committed to treating them with fairness, dignity and respect during this difficult time,” DiSantis said.  “On behalf of the entire Verso team, I want to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to them for their dedicated service and many contributions to the mill and to our company.”

Verso permanently eliminated 300 jobs in 2015 and shut down the No. 2 paper machine, a pulp dryer and associated equipment. In January nearly 190 employees were laid off when the No. 3 machine was idled.

That left less than 4oo employees at the mill.

Verso and 26 subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 26, 2016. The company announced in July 2016 that it had successfully emerged from bankruptcy protection with $2.4 billion less debt.

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