SAICA sets January startup for its new £300M, 400,000 tonnes/year recycled lightweight linerboard machine at Partington, England, plans another paper mill but not revealing details, says company official

LOS ANGELES , December 9, 2011 () – Sociedad Anónima Industrias Celulosa Aragonesa, known as SAICA, plans to begin trials next month on its new recycled lightweight linerboard machine in Partington, England, which has a capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year when it is fully operational, reported Packaging News on Dec. 9.

The £300-million (US$469.2 million) investment is the latest in the Zaragoza, Spain-based paper conglomerate’s strategy to expand its papermaking operations in the U.K.

Since 2006, when it entered the country through the acquisition of International Paper Co.’s plants at Winsford, Thrapston and Ashbourne in Ireland, SAICA had invested close to half a billion pounds in the U.K., Packaging News reported.

The U.K. holdings, which have increased largely through acquisition, follow SAICA’s three-pronged approach to vertical integration, which includes having waste management facilities to provide the fiber, papermaking at the core, and converting plants to produce corrugated packaging.

While SAICA buys the waste management and converting operations it requires, it builds its own mills. The company plans to build another paper mill but is not divulging the location, said Ramon Alejandro, president of SAICA, reported Packaging News.

Between now and 2016, the company has set aside some €1.75 billion (US$2.34 billion) for investment, which is likely to be directed “eastward” because of the group’s present strength in western Europe, said Susana Alejandro, SAICA’s managing director.

The company is not concerned that the Eurozone debt crisis might affect its plans as SAICA is “conservative” with its investments and finances them mostly internally, said Ramon Alejandro.

The Partington paper machine is 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) wide and operates at a speed of 1,500 meters per minute. It will produce 100% recycled-content linerboard in the range of 75 to 125 grams (2.65 to 4.40 ounces) per square meter, according to the company, Packaging News reported.

More than 140,000 hours of training were undertaken to prepare for the machine’s startup. Recruiting wasn’t easy because of a shortage of qualified engineering graduates, said Pilar Franca, SAICA’s human resources and communications director.

SAICA currently has 43 box plants and 51 recycling facilities across Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and the U.K., as well as paper mills in Spain, southern France and the U.K., reported Packaging News.

The primary source of this article is Packaging News, London, England, on Dec. 9, 2011.

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