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Containerboard: IP plans $100+ million upgrade for its Rome, GA kraft linerboard mill

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Containerboard: IP plans $100+ million upgrade for its Rome, GA kraft linerboard mill

September 20, 2013 - 11:35

OAKLAND, Sept. 20, 2013 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) -International Paper (IP) plans on spending $100-150 million to upgrade its linerboard mill in Rome, GA, to "modernize operations" in three different phases over the next three years, the company told a local development authority in northwestern Georgia.

The Rome mill capacity is 913,000 tons/yr of unbleached kraft linerboard on two machines. IP acquired the mill from Temple-Inland in early 2012.

The Rome-Floyd Development Authority approved authorizing revenue bonds on Sept. 17 for the acquisition and installation of equipment at the mill, according to a report in theRome News-Tribune.

The main focus of the program is likely to be on improving product quality and increasing efficiency rather than incremental capacity expansion, according to one contact. IP provided no additional details on the scope of the project.

Rome's first machine was installed in 1953 and a second machine was added in 1962. The machine trims are about 235 in. and run at speeds of 2,500-2,550 ft/minute, according to RISI Mill Intelligence. RISI estimates the mill is between the second- and first-quartile in cash manufacturing costs.

Both of Rome's PMs were rebuilt extensively as part of a $190 million modernization program in 1988-89 and the No. 2 machine was rebuilt again with addition of a new headbox in 2005. PM 1 produces standard and heavier weight grades, while PM 2 produces standard and lighter weight linerboard.

A recycling line for old corrugated containers (OCC) was moved to the mill in 2004 from Temple-Inland's shut Antioch, CA, containerboard mill. About 10% of the mill's furnish comes from OCC and new double lined kraft corrugating clippings and the rest from unbleached softwood kraft pulp.

Rome is now down for about 3.5 weeks in September for boiler maintenance, but it was unclear whether this was for the first phase of the upgrade program. The current outage would result in an estimated 60,000 tons production loss.