BOSTON, MA, Oct. 30, 2013 (PRNewswire) -Sappi Fine Paper North America announced today the successful completion of its US$170 million capital conversion project at the Cloquet Mill in Minnesota to produce Specialised Cellulose, which is used in textile and consumer goods markets. The conversion initiated in 2011, was accomplished on time, within budget, and safely. This major investment reflects Sappi's commitment to the North American region as a key player in the global Specialised Cellulose market and will be celebrated during an open house at Cloquet Mill today.
"Sappi's investment in the Cloquet Mill reinforces our position as a worldwide leader in the Specialised Cellulose market, demonstrating our reputation of reliability and technical know-how," said Mark Gardner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sappi Fine Paper North America. "Through incredible teamwork, the remarkable execution of our Specialised Cellulose conversion is a reflection of Sappi Fine Paper North America's expertise in manufacturing new, innovative products with the unparalleled quality our customers have come to expect."
Sappi globally is currently the largest manufacturer of Specialised Cellulose in the world with capacity totaling to over 1.3 million metric tons per year. Specialised Cellulose, also known as dissolving wood pulp, is a versatile raw material used by manufacturers to produce a wide range of products including textile fibers, pharmaceutical, beauty, and household products.
"The Cloquet Mill is ideally suited to help Sappi secure its global leadership position regarding Specialised Cellulose. It is the newest pulp mill in America, close to its fiber basket and with a highly skilled and motivated workforce," said Ralph Boettger, Chief Executive Officer, Sappi Limited. "The mill adds to Sappi's flexibility in serving its global customer base and has, from start-up, produced excellent quality product. Cloquet's paper and now dissolving pulp capabilities are central to the ongoing success of Sappi in North America."
The company now has the capability to produce Specialised Cellulose on two continents including its South Africa expansion at the Sappi Ngodwana Mill and its Saiccor Mill in KwaZulu-Natal. With the Cloquet conversion now complete, the mill's Specialised Cellulose production is 330,000 metric tons per year.
"For a capital project of this magnitude and complexity, we are very pleased with its successful completion," said Rick Dwyer, Managing Director, Cloquet, Sappi Fine Paper North America. "It is with great pride that we are celebrating the hard work of our employees and contractors and their role in helping Sappi bring state-of-the-art innovation to the Cloquet Mill as we continue to invest in North American manufacturing."
At peak construction, over 1100 workers were employed on the project with 41 different contractors totaling to over 550,000 man hours. In the first two weeks of the start-up curve, average production was between 500-600 tons to over 1,000 tons produced per day as ramp up continued into July. Product output has exceeded quality targets and the production capacity is currently fully-secured to fulfill customer orders.
The company takes great pride in producing products in the United States. In addition to this Specialised Cellulose conversion project, Sappi has made significant capital investments across all of its North American business units over the past year. Excellence in coated paper manufacturing continues to remain a top priority at Cloquet with $15M recently invested towards a dry fiber handling system as well as new refiners and former upgrades on both PM4 and PM12. The company has also upgraded coated paper capabilities at Somerset Mill, in Skowhegan, Maine with a $13M rebuild of PM3; and, in the Release sector, it has invested $2.5M to rebuild the specialty coater at the Westbrook Mill in Maine. These strategic investments represent Sappi's strong track record as a global leader and its long-term growth strategy in North American operations.
About Sappi Fine Paper North America
Sappi Fine Paper North America, known for innovation and quality, is a preeminent North American producer of coated fine and release papers, as well as dissolving wood pulp (DWP) and market kraft pulp headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Its coated fine papers, with highly recognized brand names such as McCoy, Opus, Somerset and Flo, are used in premium magazines, catalogs, books and high-end print advertising. The company is also the world's leading supplier of release papers for the automotive, fashion and engineered films industries, including the globally recognized Ultracast brand. Sappi's release papers provide the surface aesthetics for synthetic fabrics used in footwear, clothing, upholstery and accessories, as well as the textures for decorative laminates found in kitchens, baths, flooring and other decorative surfaces. Sappi globally is the world's largest manufacturer of dissolving wood pulp, a versatile raw material for a wide range of products including textile fibers and household products. Sappi Fine Paper North America, through the recent conversion of the Cloquet pulp mill, manufactures dissolving pulp under Sappi's Specialised Cellulose division primarily for the textile markets.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited (JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with over 14,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 100 countries around the world.