Sonae delays restart of Knowsley, U.K., factory following eight-day fire in June; managing director says plant will not accept recycled woodchip until early next year

LOS ANGELES , October 28, 2011 () – Particleboard manufacturer Sonae Industria says it will not accept recycled woodchip at its Knowsley, U.K., factory until the first quarter of 2012 following an eight-day fire in June.

The Portuguese company was accepting 1,200 tonnes of waste wood a day at the site, but said rebuilding the plant following the fire was taking longer than expected, reported on Oct. 27.

Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd. initially expected to begin taking waste wood in October, but now says it will not need the material until early next year.

The company had expected to resume production in two stages, starting up at 80% of capacity from October and returning to full production in the first quarter of next year. Managing director Nigel Graham said reconstruction work to rebuild the particleboard production area of the plant was progressing well, but it now looked as though production would resume in November.

Graham said the delay of around four weeks was as a result of the discovery of unexpected additional damaged electrical areas during the demolition stage. He said Sonae was working closely with the main contractor, Barnhill, to ensure production could restart as quickly as possible, but he said the project needed to be handled extremely carefully and all systems tested individually.

Graham noted that the company had continued to source particleboard from within the group so that supply to customers had not been disrupted, and the finishing plant at Knowsley had remained fully operational. He added that virgin fiber had been stockpiled at the plant in preparation for the start-up, and that the company would talk to suppliers in the New Year to resume normal intake operations.

The waste wood market in the U.K. is currently oversupplied, the report said, and suppliers in the North of England are having to export the material to the content for fuel. But the transport costs involved means they are making less money.

The primary source of this article is, London, on Oct. 27, 2011.

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