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Paper Excellence to invest €180m at Tarascon pulp mill

Richmond, Canada - France’s Tarascon pulp mill, in receivership, has been given a new lease on life. Fibre Excellence announced that the commercial court of Toulouse approved the purchase of the mill by Canadian company Paper Excellence on 13 July.

Paper Excellence is the principal shareholder of Fibre Excellence and was reportedly the only investor to have submitted a bid. The company is now planning to invest €180m to modernize the site.

The takeover marks a new start for the pulp mill, observed Jean-François Guillot, president of Fibre Excellence. In the coming years, the site is planned to be upgraded to the latest technical and environmental standards. The company plans, amongst others, to modernise the production machinery, improve water quality and install a new biomass-powered turbine for power generation. In addition, Fibre Excellence wants to install a plant for oxygen delignification, which uses oxygen for the pulp bleaching process instead of chemical products.

Fibre Excellence Tarascon has the capacity to produce 250,000 tpy of softwood pulp and employs 280 persons. The company has been in receivership since October 2020. Paper Excellence as principal shareholder could submit a bid because no other offers were received. Paper Excellence had earlier refused to invest in the site and finally subjected its offer to certain conditions including financial assistance from the French government and guarantees on wood supply.

In the last years, Fibre Excellence used to produce mainly bleached pulp, but the company has now switched production to unbleached pulp since the beginning of the year. The switch was made partly for strategic reasons, as demand for unbleached pulp is said to be good. But the move also helps the company to avoid a heavy tax imposed on the use of the current bleaching method. However, Fibre Excellence wants to retain the possibility of producing bleached pulp in the future, which is why the new delignification plant will be installed, a spokeswoman said.

Fibre Excellence has a second subsidiary in France in Saint-Gaudens. The pulp mill at the location has capacity to produce 290,000 tpy of bleached hardwood and softwood pulp.



September /October 2021