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Paper company expands operations in US

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-03-29 23:36

A Chinese paper company is using its investments in American properties that employ more than 1,000 as part of its global expansion strategy.

Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd, the largest container board producer in China, which operates three pulp and paper mills in the US and plans to open a fourth this summer, was honored by the Maine International Trade Center with its Foreign Direct Investment of the Year award Tuesday.

"They are one of the largest players (in China) and one of the largest — three or four (paper) companies — in the world," said William Moore of Moore & Associates, an Atlanta-based paper recycling consulting firm. He added that Nine Dragons is a publicly traded company with a stock listing on the Hong Kong exchange.

ND Paper, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper Holdings, officially began in June 2018 with the purchase of North American pulp/paper mills in Rumford, Maine, and Biron, Wisconsin. The company later acquired a mill in Fairmount, West Virginia, according to Brian Boland, vice-president of government affairs and corporate initiatives at the company.

"Nine Dragons has aspirations to be a global company, and [the investments help] us to expand into a stable and mature market," Boland said. The American investments also enable the company to diversify its supply chain, he added.

Last fall the company announced $300 million in strategic investments in the Maine and Wisconsin mills. Shortly after that, ND Paper unveiled the purchase of a shuttered mill in Old Town, Maine, that is expected to reopen this summer.

Boland said the company employs about 650 at the Rumford mill, 350 in Wisconsin and 130 when the Old Town mill resumes operations.

"We appreciate the investment by Nine Dragon Paper in Rumford and Old Town. We look forward to a long-term partnership that supports and grows the forest products industry and its workers," said Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Economic and Community Development department.

"What's exciting about ND Paper is they are bringing a 100-year outlook to these mills, so our focus has switched from surviving to thriving," Randy Chicoine, manager of the Rumford mill, said in a statement.

"ND Paper's investment in the Rumford mill has reaffirmed the value of the facility and our community and it helps our overall economy," said Glen Holmes, president of Community Concepts Finance Corp, an economic development agency in the area.

Boland said the investment at the Biron mill will enable the facility to take scrap paper and convert it into pulp that will be shipped to China.

The Rumford mill "ships hardwood pulp to China which is then used to make container board (used in cardboard boxes). The Old Town mill will also ship pulp to China," Boland said.

Moore said China placed import restrictions on recovered paper imports (the raw material of container board). As the price of the recovered paper was increasing, Nine Dragons purchased more recovered paper domestically and looked overseas for factories that make recycled pulp.

"They are going into other countries to produce recycled pulp," Moore said.

Industry consultant Moore said he expects other Chinese paper companies to look to the US for investments.

"Shanying International is the only other Chinese company to buy a mill in the US (in Kentucky). There are other Chinese companies looking at the US," he said.


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