Fortress Paper Ltd. will operate the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill at Thurso, Que., as a “swing mill", capable of switching production from dissolving pulp to northern bleached hardwood kraft (NBHK) pulp. The change can be accomplished with minor modifications and no capital expenditure, says Fortress.
Yvon Pelletier, president of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc., commented: “We will now be capable of quickly shifting production at the FSC Mill between different products to maximize margins in response to changing market conditions. This opportunity is unique to us due to the configuration of the FSC Mill and our extensive experience in producing both dissolving pulp and NBHK pulp."
The company says the Specialty Cellulose Mill will be able to lower its cost structure accordingly when redirecting production from dissolving pulp to NBHK pulp. Relative to dissolving pulp, NBHK is simpler to produce and has a higher yield derived from the same fibre source. In addition, when producing NBHK, the mill will have 25% higher production capacity, when compared with dissolving pulp.
The Thurso mill will produce, among other products, specialty maple NBHK pulp, which Fortress says is ideally suited for premium packaging, tissues and toweling, and other technical and specialty papers, due to its superior smoothness, opacity, bulk and cleanliness. The production of other specialty hardwood pulp will be evaluated over the next few months.
Fortress explains that the primary difference between dissolving pulp production and NBHK pulp production is the additional chemical processes that dissolving pulp must undergo. Given current market conditions for dissolving pulp, the company has determined that the FSC mill can improve margins by redirecting its production capacity to lower-cost NBHK pulp production.
The flexibility of production will allow the company to mitigate any adverse impacts resulting from the threatened imposition of a dumping tariff by China's Ministry of Commerce on the import of Canadian dissolving pulp into China.