Domtar to restart fine paper machine at Ashdown mill

Woodfree paper prodution can restart at Domtar's Ashdown mill from 2022
16 Jul 2021 − 

During the pandemic last year, Domtar slashed 655,000 t of woodfree paper capacities. Now, the company sees first signs of a market recovery and has decided to restart its fine paper in Ashdown, USA.

The market for woodfree papers seems to recover. After cutting capacities in this sector during the pandemic, the Domtar Corporation is now taking a step in the opposite direction. The company has announced it will restart the woodfree uncoated paper machine at its Ashdown mill in Arkansas, USA. The PM, which has a capacity of 168,000 tpy, is expected to resume full operation in January 2022 after a period of time to ramp up production. Domtar puts the costs for the restart at $10m.

The PM is Ashdown has been down since April 2020. Domtar shut down the machine in a move that saw several other machine closures as well. The group said at the time that it had to react to the continuing demand decline on the graphic paper markets. When the pandemic began, it started halting production at several mills and in August, it decided to close some machines and take a total of 655,000 t of woodfree uncoated paper capacities from the market, which included PMs at the Kingsport, Port Huron and Ashdown mills.

Now, the market environment has improved, which is why Domtar decided to revive fine paper production in Ashdown. "As the economy begins to recover from the pandemic, the demand for paper is also recovering. Our customers' business is steadily growing, and we want to support that growth," said Rob Melton, Domtar's senior vice president, pulp and paper commercial.

Domtar explains that a portion of the increased paper capacity may be utilised to increase thermal coated paper capacity at its West Carrolton facility in Ohio to meet improving demand for its thermal point of sale paper.

The group also adds the changes at the Ashdown mill will result in a capacity reduction of 185,000 tpy of southern bleached softwood kraft (SBSK) pulp. However, they will not impact the mill's fluff pulp production capacity. Besides the fine paper machine, the Ashdown mill houses three pulp lines, which can currently make up to 775,000 tpy of softwood and fluff pulp.

Kraftliner machine project in Ashdown still on the cards

Domtar emphasised that the restart of the PM would not affect its project concerning kraftliner production at the Ashdown mill. The company announced last year that it was considering to install a kraftliner machine with a capacity of 635,000 tpy at the site. For the potential expansion into containerboard, it was necessary to convert one fibre line, which formerly produced hardwood pulp, to softwood pulp. This project has already been concluded.

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