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Byline: Peter Panepento
Oct. 17--International Paper Co. announced Tuesday that it will close its Erie paper and pulp mill, a move that will leave 760 workers unemployed and shutter a 103-year-old plant that has been a longtime symbol of Erie's manufacturing might.
The decision comes three months after the mill announced plans to hire 50 new workers and begin running at full capacity for the first time in two years -- a sign that the struggling mill was poised to get back on track after years of questions about its future.
But in a turn of events that surprised company officials as well as workers, the plant began hemorrhaging money this summer, as a rapidly weakening market for pulp drove the Erie mill on East Lake Road into the red, mill manager Chris Mallon said Tuesday.
The market price for pulp -- which accounts for two-thirds of the business at the Erie plant -- has decreased by about 50 percent in the past six to eight months, Mallon said.
In addition, the process that is used to create pulp …