Due to a global decline in newsprint prices, which have gone below the cost of production, and a rise in raw material (chemical pulp) prices, Volga, one of the leading newsprint producers in Russia, has had to scale back the production. Starting from mid-April the company will shut down three paper machines to upgrade the production process, according to an official statement from Volga’s General Director Mr. Dmitry Donchenko.
The goal is to change the raw material consumption pattern. Chemical pulp, which is seeing an excessive price hike, is to be substituted with additive-free thermo-mechanical pulp (TMP) capable to improve newsprint properties and add some gloss to newsprint.
To this end, Volga will build a new Thermo-Mechanical Pulp Mill, capacity 450,000 mt/year, which will satisfy the raw material requirements. When the TMP Mill is operational, the currently shutdown paper machines will be brought back on stream again. The upgrade programme will also include improvements to paper machine No. 8 (Voith, Austria).
At this moment, the preparatory works have been completed and the machine is ready to run on TMP furnish. The high-quality newsprint made by PM8 is in demand in foreign markets and accounts for 50% of Volga’s total output.
Eventually, Volga is also going to expand the generation capacities of its energy complex (NiGRES) by another 60 MW necessary for the operation of the new TMP Mill.
Dmitry Donchenko also noted that TMP is currently the best ecological alternative to chemical pulp and the conversion will help to improve the newsprint quality and substantially reduce the production cost. The project will enable Volga to maintain a competitive position in the international market, although will require significant investments.
“I hope that the company employees will regard this forced shutdown with understanding. I would like to emphasize that only by modernizing the processes and facilities we can hold out through the difficult times of an economic downturn,” concluded Dmitry Donchenko.
JSC Volga (Balakhna, Nizhny Novgorod region) is one of the leading newsprint producers in Russia, an economic mainstay of the Balakhna district and a large taxpayer to the region’s budget.
The company currently operates four newsprint machines to produce 570,000 mt/y newsprint.