Plans are underway at International Paper to invest approximately $10 million to convert its Bastrop, LA mill to 100% market and fluff pulp production. Conversion of the mill will begin later this year with equipment upgrades to be completed by the fall of 2008.
"Moving the mill from paper to pulp production, combined with key cost reduction measures, makes strategic sense for us," said Wayne Brafford, senior vice president of International Paper's printing and communications papers sector. "It allows us to operate the Louisiana mill competitively and meet global demand for our softwood and fluff pulp while reducing our uncoated freesheet capacity by about 250,000 tons."
The mill will cease production of uncoated freesheet, such as office paper and envelopes, as well as other specialty papers. Instead it will have the capacity to make up to 450,000 tons per year of primarily softwood pulp, used in tissue, towels, paper and packaging, as well as fluff pulp, used in diapers and personal hygiene products. The mill's bristols production, used for products such as index cards and file folders, will be shifted to other mills in the International Paper system.
With the conversion, the mill's employment will decline about 15%, from approximately 600 to approximately 525. The company plans to manage the employee reduction predominantly through normal attrition, such as retirements and voluntary severance.