MONTREAL, March 27, 2014 (CNW) -Resolute Forest Products Inc. today announced a $105 million upgrade to its Calhoun, Tennessee, pulp and paper mill, including the installation of a modern continuous pulp digester and other wood chip processing equipment. When completed by mid-2016, the project will contribute to significantly lower the mill's costs, increase its pulp capacity and improve the mill's versatility.
"This investment will make a good mill even better," said Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer. "It will improve the mill's long-term competitiveness by lowering its costs and giving it the flexibility to adjust grade production to changing market dynamics. This is a significant capital project, which reflects the company's commitment to this facility and confidence in the business environment in Tennessee."
In addition to creating approximately 50 new jobs to join the 480 employees currently at the mill, Resolute expects the project's implementation to produce efficiencies from better wood yield and lower steam and chemical usage. It will also increase the pulp machine's production output and maximize dryer utilization for internal purposes, giving the mill the versatility to manufacture a range of products, including specialty papers such as Resolute's Align uncoated freesheet substitutes, and value-added grades not presently in the product offering.
The Calhoun mill currently operates 3 machines and a pulp dryer and has a total mill capacity of approximately 609,000 metric tons of market pulp, specialty papers and newsprint. Along with Resolute's other mills in the area, it sources its fiber from the competitive and stable U.S. southeast fiber basket.
"We received support for this project from the State of Tennessee, McMinn County, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which has supplied power to the mill since its startup in 1954," Garneau continued. "These partners and our employees helped move the project forward quickly, and we appreciate their commitment to our Calhoun operation."
"For more than 50 years, Resolute Forest Products has had a thriving presence in East Tennessee which can be felt far beyond the borders of our state," stated Bill Hagerty, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. "Tennessee's global momentum is fueled by companies that extend their brand on a worldwide scale, and with customers in nearly 100 countries, Resolute is one of those companies. I appreciate the company's decision to further expand and invest in Calhoun, and for the jobs that will be created for our citizens."
"TVA congratulates Resolute Forest Products on its announcement that adds new investment and jobs in Calhoun," said John Bradley, Tennessee Valley Authority's senior vice president of economic development. "Growth like this happens when TVA and economic development partners like the state of Tennessee, McMinn County, and other local leaders support existing business expansion."
The Calhoun mill has continuously produced paper products at its current site since 1954. Over this period of time, the mill has been a contributor to the community through employment, the purchase of local goods and services, the payment of state and local taxes, charitable contributions and community involvement.
John Gentry, McMinn County Mayor, explained the role of the operation in the county: "Resolute Forest Products has been an invaluable corporate citizen of McMinn County for over five decades. The company could have chosen to place this expansion at one of their numerous locations, so it goes without saying that this $105 million capital investment makes a strong statement about the company's commitment to its Calhoun plant and the confidence it has in McMinn County's workforce."
About Resolute Forest Products
Resolute Forest Products is a global leader in the forest products industry with a diverse range of products, including newsprint, specialty papers, market pulp and wood products. The company owns or operates over 40 pulp and paper mills and wood products facilities in the United States, Canada and South Korea, and power generation assets in Canada. Marketing its products in close to 90 countries, Resolute has third-party certified 100% of its managed woodlands to at least one of three internationally-recognized sustainable forest management standards. The shares of Resolute Forest Products trade under the stock symbol RFP on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Resolute and other member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada, as well as a number of environmental organizations, are partners in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. The group works to identify solutions to conservation issues that meet the goal of balancing equally the three pillars of sustainability linked to human activities: environmental, social and economic. Resolute is also a member of the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Savers program, in which businesses establish ambitious targets to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work aggressively toward achieving them.