ND Paper, an Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois-based producer of pulp, paper and packaging, says it has plans to reconfigure its paper mill in Rumford, Maine, to produce more packaging papers.
According to a news release from ND Paper, the Rumford mill currently operates three paper production lines, and its product mix is heavily weighted toward bleached grades serving the printing and writing (P&W) markets. However, the company says, demand for P&W papers has plummeted, and the coated woodfree and coated mechanical papers (primary grades produced by ND Paper’s Rumford mill) are expected to decline 23.5 percent and 30.3 percent year over year, respectively, which is equivalent to 1.4 million tons of output.
The Rumford mill will transition to produce packaging grades in light of this shift in the market, the company says. As a result, ND Paper is commissioning an unbleached recycled pulp (URP) line; converting a P&W paper machine to lightweight, high-strength kraft linerboard products; expanding a paper machine to include unbleached recycled bag and converting papers in addition to its current offering of bleached and unbleached papers; and will permanently curtail mechanical pulping operations.
“The onset of this unprecedented demand decline happened much more quickly than could possibly be anticipated,” says Group Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Liu. “However, while other mills have exited the market and closed their doors, ND Paper is repurposing the Rumford Division for a competitive future. Moving our largest Rumford machine into packaging grades helps to balance the deteriorating P&W market in North America, while simultaneously positioning us into bigger and more stable packaging paper markets. I would like to thank the mill and project team for their work over the past year leading to this transition.”
ND Paper reports that it expects these transitions to be completed by the end of the year.
ND Paper is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd., a large containerboard producer in Asia. ND Paper currently operates four paper mills in the U.S. that produce about 1.2 million tons of pulp and paper annually.