Sappi Fine Paper North America Completes Specialised Cellulose Conversion Project at Cloquet Mill

Sappi Fine Paper North America completed a $170 million capital conversion project at its Cloquet Mill in Minnesota to produce Specialised Cellulose (330,000 metric tons per year).

Oct. 30, 2013 - 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, Sappi said.

"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 1,100 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.

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 $15 million 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 $13 million rebuild of PM3; and, in the Release sector, it has invested $2.5 million to rebuild the specialty coater at the Westbrook Mill in Maine.

SOURCE: Sappi Fine Paper North America