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Stora Enso has completed co-determination negotiations on possible temporary layoffs with employees at its Oulu Mill in Finland.

As a result of the negotiations, Stora Enso can, if needed, temporarily lay off employees at the mill, excluding the personnel at its adjacent Oulu pulp mill, for a maximum of 90 days during the first half of 2019.

“Basically, there are 500 employees in the scope of the temporary layoffs, which can be used as a precautionary measure to adapt production to possible fluctuations in market demand,” a Stora spokesperson told PrintWeek.

“The pulp mill will be running the whole time also during the first half of the year, even if the possible temporary layoffs might be taken. In practice though, Oulu mill will not shut down even during a period of a possible temporary layoff – at least one paper production line and the pulp mill will be running constantly.”

The co-determination negotiations were initiated in November as the business looked to reduce its production in response to weak market conditions for woodfree papers, while prices of the most important raw materials for paper production simultaneously continued to rise.

Last year, Stora Enso initiated a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment (EIA) into converting its coated woodfree paper production at the Oulu mill to packaging board.

Alongside the two paper machines at the site, which have an annual capacity of 1.08 million tonnes, the mill also houses a chemical softwood pulp plant with a capacity of 360,000 tonnes.

The mooted conversion project would require a major investment of around €700m to set up a new chemi-thermomechanical pulp (CTMP) plant at the site and create a brown-based cartonboard line able to produce 450,000 tonnes per annum and a kraftliner line with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes.

“The environmental impact assessment study (EIA) has been concluded,” the Stora Enso spokesperson said.

“However, the feasibility study is still ongoing, as the potential conversion of the Oulu paper mill into packaging board is a large and complex project. We expect to conclude the feasibility study in early 2019.”

Oulu is Stora Enso’s only coated woodfree fine paper mill, meaning the group would exit that part of the market if the scheme goes ahead.