It has been reported that more than 300 jobs are at risk as Opal Australian Paper considers the closure of its paper operations at the Maryvale Mill in eastern Victoria, following a Supreme Court order that forced pulp supplier VicForests to scale back harvesting in endangered possum habitats.
Opal Australian Paper, via its website, has now confirmed that it has been working to address the current shortfall in VicForests supply.
In a statement, the company said, “To be viable the alternative supplies must match a range of strict criteria including species, availability, volume, cost, logistics and long-term supply. Opal has been considering a number of different operational scenarios for the longer term, in case possible alternative wood sources are below the volumes required or are not commercially feasible.
“Despite our best endeavours, Opal has been unable to source viable alternative wood supplies to replace the VicForests shortfall. As a result, we are now considering the potential future closure of white side operations at the Maryvale Mill and are consulting with our team members on this scenario. While we will be consulting extensively with our Maryvale team members, no operational decisions have been reached at this stage. We remain focused on securing the future of the Maryvale site which has a key role to play in manufacturing paper for the Opal Packaging Division.
“Opal continues to engage in active discussions with the Victorian Government and union representatives about this situation. We have reached an agreement with the Victorian Government ensuring that until mid-February, Opal team members who may be stood down will receive full pay. This is intended to provide certainty for Opal team members while the company and the Victorian Government progress discussions on any further support for the Mill’s future operations.
“In addition to Opal’s own Employee Assistance Program and other support services, a new Worker Support Service has been established by the Victorian Government to support Opal Australian Paper team members affected by potential stand downs and operational changes as may be required. While the current situation is difficult for everyone, Opal remains committed to keeping our team members, customers and key stakeholders updated on further developments. We are continuing to work diligently with a view to providing clarity for our team members as soon as practicable.”