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Verso to indefinitely idle Duluth paper mill, ‘majority’ of 225 employees to be laid off

DULUTH, MN -- Verso Corporation announced Tuesday it will indefinitely idle its Duluth paper mill to make up for what the company called "unprecedented" market decline due to COVID-19.

According to a statement from the company, its Wisconsin Rapids mill is also idling.

Verso officials said they will take this time to explore explore "viable and sustainable" alternatives for both mills, including restarting if market conditions improve, selling the mill, or closing permanently.

Verso expects to idle the Duluth mill, located on North Central Avenue in the Irving neighborhood, by the end of June and the Wisconsin Rapids Mill by the end of July 2020.

"The majority of the employees will be laid off, with some being kept on after June 30 to continue limited operations and/or to maintain the mill,
but we do not know the number of employees or for how long, at this time," according to Verso officials.

"The stay-at-home orders have significantly reduced the use of print advertising in various industries, including retail, sports, entertainment and tourism. According to Fastmarkets RISI, North American printing and writing demand fell by 38% year-over-year in April, and operating rates are expected to drop well below 70% during the second quarter," according to a statement from Verso.

Verso will continue to supply graphic and specialty papers in roll and sheet form, as well as packaging papers and pulp.

The Duluth Mill has the capacity to produce approximately 270,000 tons of paper per year.

The mill makes graphic papers used for magazines, catalogs and retail inserts and packaging recycled kraft paper used for a variety of bag, sack and converting applications.

Verso began operating in Duluth in 1987.

Briggs LeSavage

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