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North Charleston paper mill to shut down

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A large employer in North Charleston will close this summer.

WestRock Co. will permanently cease operating its paper mill in North Charleston on Aug. 31, according to a news release from the company.

The North Charleston mill produces containerboard, uncoated kraft paper (KraftPak), and unbleached saturating kraft paper (DuraSorb), with a combined annual capacity of 550,000 tons, according to the news release.

WestRock is committed to improving its return on invested capital as well as maximizing the performance of its assets, the release stated. The combination of high operating costs and the need for significant capital investment were the determining factors in the decision to cease operations at the mill.

“WestRock and its predecessor companies have had a long history in the region operating the North Charleston mill, and the contributions of the team members over the years have been greatly appreciated,” said WestRock CEO David B. Sewell in the release. “The decision to close a facility and impact the lives of our team members is never easy, and we are committed to assisting our North Charleston team with exploring roles at other WestRock locations and outplacement assistance.”

Containerboard and uncoated kraft currently produced at the mill will be manufactured at other WestRock facilities, the release stated. The company intends to exit the unbleached saturating kraft paper business when the mill shutdown is completed.

WestRock has other South Carolina facilities in Greer, Spartanburg and Florence.

The North Charleston mill employs approximately 500 people, according to the release. Employees will receive severance and outplacement assistance in accordance with WestRock policy and labor union agreements, the release stated.

In a separate release, Ingevity Corp. said that operations at the company’s North Charleston plant will continue as normal with the closure of WestRock.

The two companies will work together to transition limited shared services ahead of closure of the WestRock facility, according to the release. The companies share a common history, but Ingevity has operated as a stand-alone public company since May 2016.

“While we anticipate some cost with the transition of shared services, we expect minimal disruption to our operations,” said Ingevity president and CEO John Fortson in the release. “Our primary focus as WestRock exits their plant site is to ensure safe operations and continue to meet the needs of our customers.”

WestRock’s plant closure does not impact Ingevity’s recently announced long-term supply agreement for crude tall oil with WestRock, according to the release.

WestRock has more than 58,000 employees in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Reach Jason at 864-568-7570.

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