Coated papers producer Verso is planning to shut down a pulp dryer and paper machine at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, US, putting close to 300 jobs at risk.

The closure will reduce the company’s coated paper and dried market pulp production capacity by 150,000t and 100,000t, respectively.

The plans to reduce coated paper and pulp production capacity come in response to decline in coated paper demand in North America.

"We are working diligently to qualify the remaining paper grades for production on other Verso paper machines."

Figures released by the Pulp and Paper Products Council show that coated paper demand fell by 4.7% in the first half of this year, following declines of 3.4% and 4.3% in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Additionally, the company is indefinitely idling its mill in Wickliffe, Kentucky, resulting in 310 job cuts.

Verso marketing and product development senior vice-president Michael A Weinhold said: "Verso’s manufacturing system is extremely flexible. Most of the affected paper grades are already qualified to be manufactured on other Verso paper machines, and we are working diligently to qualify the remaining paper grades for production on other Verso paper machines.

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"Our sales leadership will begin contacting all of our affected customers immediately. Our aim is to ensure that all customer needs are seamlessly met."

Verso looks to optimise Androscoggin Mill’s pulp, power and recovery assets to mitigate the high-energy and other operating costs.

The capacity reduction at the Androscoggin Mill and idling of Wickliffe will reduce the Verso’s production capacity of coated paper and dried market pulp by 430,000t and 130,000t, respectively.