UPM mill in Austria might convert to containerboard

Austria’s Heinzel Group says it has purchased a UPM newsprint mill in that nation and is considering the conversion.

Laakirchen, Austria-based Heinzel Group says it has entered into a share purchase agreement with Finland-based UPM to acquire UPM Kymmene Austria GmbH and its subsidiaries in Steyrermühl, Upper Austria. The deal is contingent on approval from relevant regulatory authorities.

“Together with Heinzel's Laakirchen Papier AG, which is located less than 3 kilometers from the Steyrermühl paper mill, the site will become a hub for sustainable packaging papers and renewable energy with [the anticipated] closing of the transaction on January 1, 2024,” states Heinzel Group.

UPM currently operates one paper machine for newsprint production at the site, plus a sawmill and a residue incineration plant co-owned with Heinzel. UPM says it plans to continue operations as they are until the end of 2023, when it will cease the production of graphic papers in Steyrermühl.

Heinzel Group says it will use the time between signing and closing of the transaction to evaluate and, if feasible, plan and prepare a conversion of Steyrermühl’s capacity to the production of packaging papers. This evaluation will include not only the paper machine that is currently running but also a second paper machine at the site that was idled by UPM in 2017, the Austrian buyer says.

Currently, Heinzel Group produces a range of papers for flexible packing (kraft papers) and rigid packaging (containerboard) at its sites in Pöls, Laakirchen and Raubling, Austria. On its website, the company says it uses some 975,000 metric tons per year of recovered fiber to help supply its mills.

“In Steyrermühl, we will be looking at complementing our existing products; we see great potential in the fast-growing markets for sustainable packaging papers,” says Heinzel Group CEO Sebastian Heinzel.

Additionally, Heinzel Group says it will consider developing Steyrermühl into a supply center for heat and energy for both the Laakirchen paper mill and the wider Laakirchen community. “The recent developments in Europe have shown us all how important it is to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and gas,” Heinzel Group Chief Operating Officer Kurt Maier says.

“At our neighboring Laakirchen mill, we have successfully shown that there is a future after the end of graphic paper production, and this future is based on sustainable packaging papers and green energy,” says Thomas Welt, CEO of Laakirchen Papier AG.

Heinzel Group operates paper and board production companies Zellstoff Pöls, Laakirchen Papier, Raubling Papier and Estonian Cell and trading companies Heinzelsales, Europapier and Bunzl & Biach.

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