ASHDOWN, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Domtar has announced plans to restart the A62 paper machine at its mill in Ashdown to meet increasing customer demand after being shut down for almost a year.

“Domtar will restart the A62 paper machine at its Ashdown mill. We are currently evaluating the impact to the mill’s staffing needs. The project will add 185,000 tons of uncoated freesheet capacity to the company’s paper manufacturing network,” Domtar spokesperson Tammy Waters said in a statement Thursday.

Domtar Paper Mill Company permanently shut down its operations on the A62 paper machine at the Ashdown mill back in August due to cost-cutting measures in response to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 109 were laid off.

“This increased capacity will enhance Domtar’s ability to better service both domestic and global customers with uncoated freesheet paper as the economy recovers from the pandemic and people return to offices and schools. The restart is expected to resume full operation in January 2022, with a period of time to ramp up to full production, to support the current demand and future needs of our key customers while restoring service to pre-pandemic levels.”

Domtar describes itself as “a leading provider of a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication, specialty and packaging papers, market pulp, and air-laid nonwovens.”

“As the economy begins to recover from the pandemic, the demand for paper is also recovering,” said Rob Melton, senior vice president, pulp and paper commercial. “Our customers’ business is steadily growing, and we want to support that growth by leveraging the flexibility of our asset base.”

According to a statement released by the company, the changes at the Ashdown Mill will result in a capacity reduction of 185,000 tonnes (or ADMT) of baled SBSK pulp per year. The paper machine restart will not impact the Ashdown Mill’s fluff pulp production capacity or its potential to produce containerboard and other packaging products in the future. The company is continuing to develop a potential kraft linerboard project for the facility.