MEMPHIS, Tenn. - International Paper announced Tuesday that its Pineville, La., containerboard mill will continue to operate. The mill employs about 226 people.
The decision is the outcome of an extensive two-year study of options to strengthen the company's North American containerboard business.
In 2005, as part of its transformation plan, International Paper explored alternatives, including possible closure, for the Pineville plant.
But over the past two years, the mill has shown dramatic cost improvement, and is now one of the company’s most globally cost efficient mills. With global box demand expected to grow at a healthy rate, keeping Pineville in operation will allow International Paper to further integrate its box businesses in Europe and Asia.
Since announcing its transformation plan, International Paper has closed two containerboard mills in Groveton, N.H., and Fort Madison, Iowa, and plans to close its 200,000-ton Terre Haute, Ind., mill in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The company is also converting its mill in Pensacola, Fla., from printing paper to producing 500,000-tons-per-year of low-cost, lightweight linerboard. The conversion is expected to be completed in late 2007.
"These changes will increase the company's containerboard capacity in 2007 by approximately 300,000 tons, most of which will be absorbed by the company's internal container business in Europe and Asia," said Dennis Colley, vice president and general manager of International Paper's containerboard business. "These plants have historically purchased their lightweight containerboard on the open market within their own regions. The addition of the Pensacola mill production will allow us to use our containerboard system to supply lightweight board to our box plants all around the globe, while the amount of board sold in North America will remain flat."
International Paper supplies uncoated paper and packaging, and has manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Russia, Latin America, Asia and North Africa. The company has nearly 54,000 employees. Annual sales are approximately $22 billion.