Third quarter underlying operating profit of €221 million was 27% above the comparable prior year period (€174 million) with a good performance from all business units and strong incremental contributions from Packaging Paper, Uncoated Fine Paper and the South Africa Division. As anticipated, underlying operating profit was 13% lower than the second quarter, reflecting the impact of planned maintenance shuts in a number of key operations and the usual seasonal slowdown in demand in certain segments. Selling prices in local currency terms for most of the Group’s key paper grades were generally stable to higher versus both the second quarter and the comparable prior year period. Like-for-like sales volumes were up on the comparable prior year period with the exception of kraft paper, which was impacted by softer demand in certain export markets and the closure of the Lohja plant in the first half.
ND Paper will invest $300 million into its mills in Wisconsin and Maine in the next two years, sparking a transformation and new trajectory for ND Paper, the newly-formed U.S.-based subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited, the largest containerboard producer in Asia.
After completing the purchase of its Rumford, Maine and Biron, Wisconsin pulp and paper mills in June 2018, ND Paper immediately executed a strategic review of investment options to further enhance the long-term sustainability of these facilities. This investigation has led the Company to a multi-faceted investment strategy that diversifies the U.S. mills’ product mix, increases their overall production capacity, and fundamentally improves their viability for generations to come.
In total, ND Paper expects to invest $300 million within two years to complete these projects. Combined, the projects will create 77 additional jobs in both states.
In Rumford, Maine these investments will sustain the jobs of the 650 employees who currently work at the mill, while the mill enhancements will add an additional 50 employees to the workforce over the next two years.
The Rumford Division will receive an injection of $111 million to finance two significant projects. Planned projects include:
•construction of a greenfield recycled pulp facility. This pulp line will add approximately 1,200 air dried metric tonnes per day (admtpd) of manufacturing capacity to the site.
•installation of a shoe press on the R15 paper machine, which increases the machine’s production capacity by approximately 20 percent.
“I want to thank ND Paper for its continued investment in Maine,” said Gov. Paul R. LePage. “This $111 million investment will lead to the creation of 50 new jobs, and is a great example of ND Paper’s commitment to improving the overall competitiveness and stability of the Rumford mill. We look forward to continuing to support and partner with ND Paper, as we strengthen and diversify our forest products industry now and well into the future.”
In Wisconsin, the Biron Division will commission several major projects at a cost of $189 million. These investments will preserve and sustain the jobs of the 350 employees who currently work at the mill, while the mill enhancements will add 27 additional jobs.
Planned projects in Biron include:
•conversion of the B25 paper machine to containerboard products.
•construction of a two-line greenfield recycled pulp facility. These pulp lines will add approximately 1,900 air dried metric tonne pulp dryer (admtpd) of manufacturing capacity to the site.
•construction of a water treatment and fiber recovery plant, a package boiler to provide energy, storage facilities for raw materials and a finished good warehouse.
“I want to commend ND Paper for making the decision to expand their operations in Wisconsin,” said state Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point). “These major projects will help retain 350 family supporting jobs and create another 27 new jobs right here in our area. ND Paper’s commitment is great news for Wisconsin’s economic future.”
The Company is pleased to work in collaboration with both the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Maine Department of Economic Development on various options to support these strategic projects.
“We invest for the long-term,” said Ken Liu, ND Paper’s chief executive officer. “While strongly supporting our global fiber strategy, this suite of projects also dramatically improves the sustainability of these historic mills. Not only are we developing a U.S.-based containerboard business, we’re also reinforcing our commitment to existing printing and writing and specialty customers with world-class, cost-competitive assets.”
These investments ensure the ND Paper team can operate these mills safely, efficiently and sustainably now and into the future, and reinforces ND Paper’s commitment to its core customers and the economic viability of the communities it serves.