The Old Town mill is expected to restart within a few weeks, nearly four years ago after it shut down.

According to reports this week ND Paper, which bought the mill last October, has hired 130 people to work at the mill, and it is expected that pulp production will start soon. Roughly 1,000 people had applied for those jobs; additionally, hundreds of contractors have been onsite at the mill in recent months readying it for its restart, as well as some staff from the Rumford mill, which also is owned by ND Paper, a subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper LLC, of China.

At the time the mill closed, it had capacity to produce 155,000 tons annually of bleached hardwood pulp. Former owner Expera blamed the shutdown on a variety of factors, including a glut of pulp and a weak Canadian dollar.

The mill changed hands after Expera owned it, and there were fears at one time it would be torn down and sold for scrap. City and state officials, however, worked with owners to try to get the mill reopened; after several false starts came the purchase by ND Paper.

ND Paper has invested millions of dollars in the Old Town mill, including $12 million in funding from a Finance Authority of Maine program; that in turn led to an estimated $30 million or more being invested by ND Paper in the mill, which will now have an estimated capacity of 275,000 tons of pulp annually.

An invite-only reopening ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 13.

More than 600 additional jobs related to mill activities, such as loggers and truckers, are expected to be created.

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