Pulp and paper producer Sappi plans to significantly expand its operations in South Africa, Europe and the US by 2020, starting with the preparatory work for the potential expansion of its South Africa-based Saiccor dissolving wood pulp (DWP) mill, according to Engineering News.
The South African group supplies about 20% of DWP to the global market – mostly to China, India and Indonesia.
The group’s capital expenditure in 2018 is expected to increase to $450 million as it continues to convert mills in South Africa, Europe and the US to produce greater amounts of DWP and speciality packaging.
“The preparatory work at Saiccor will enable Sappi to initiate the prerequisite environmental impact assessment process to study potential impacts, gather community input and model new technology benefits of the proposed expansion, which would increase the mill’s total capacity to more than one million tonnes a year,” CEO Steve Binnie said.
“Building on the previously announced investments, which will increase the Saiccor mill’s capacity by 10 000 t/y by the end of 2018, work has also started on increasing the chipping capacity and modernising the Saiccor mill’s woodyard.”
The company is also expanding the DWP capacity at its Ngodwana mill, in Mpumalanga, by 50 000 t/y through debottlenecking projects, with completion expected by August.
DWP is mostly used to make viscose fibres for use in textiles. Higher-cellulose-content DWP is used to make rayon yarn for industrial products such as the cord used in tyres, rayon staple for high-quality fabrics and acetate. Most of the DWP Sappi produces is used to make cellulosic fibres for fashion and decorative textiles.