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Weyerhaeuser closing two mills

The Mirror

Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser will further shrink its forest industry empire with the closures of two mills in Grays Harbor County by next year, the company announced last Friday.

The closures are caused by poor markets, high operating costs and the ages and comparative small size of the plants, officials said.

Closing the mills “is a difficult decision, but the reality of difficult markets is compounded” by the mills’ aging machinery, high cost and small scale, said Steven Rogel, chairman chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser.

The 140,000 tons-per-year, 50-year-old Cosmopolis mill –– which makes specialty pulp for plastics, photographic paper and cigarette filters –– will keep up with current orders until closing about the second half of 2006. It has approximately 245 employees.

An 81-year-old lumber mill in Aberdeen is scheduled to close this year in mid-December. The 97-employee facility produces about 125 million board feet per year of softwood lumber used in residential and commercial construction and high-grade millwork.

Weyerhaeuser will keep open a second log mill in Aberdeen that employs 140 people and produces 185 million board feet a year.

Earlier this month, Weyerhaeuser announced an indefinite closure of a pulp and paper facility in Saskatchewan, Canada because of weak markets for the products.

The same day it announced the Grays Harbor closures, Weyerhaeuser reported third-quarter net earnings of $285 million on net sales of $5.6 billion. The third-quarter 2004 numbers were $594 million and $5.7 billion, respectively.

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