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International Paper Partially Reopens Mill

International Paper will spend $83 million to convert part of a closed mill to produce fluff pulp, which is used in diapers and other absorbent materials.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- International Paper Co. said Tuesday that it will spend $83 million to convert part of a closed mill to produce fluff pulp, which is used in diapers and other absorbent materials.

The company said the partial reopening of the mill in Franklin, Va., will create about 200 jobs. International Paper said it continues to actively evaluate additional repurposing options for the Franklin site with other partners, though its 2009 decision to permanently shut down the Franklin Mill for copy paper production remains unchanged. That move cost 1,100 workers their jobs.

The reopened portion of the plant will produce most of its own energy supply from biomass and make up to 270,000 metric tons of fluff pulp a year.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a $350,000 grant for the deal, and the state will add money for recruitment and training.

The company said it decided to locate a fluff pulp mill in Franklin due to its skilled local workforce; the condition of the mill's current assets; and the availability of U.S. southern pine in the region which is ideal for producing high-quality fluff pulp.

"With roughly ninety percent of the world's fluff pulp made from US southern pine, this is a great opportunity to use a distinctively American material to produce a globally competitive product," said Mark Sutton, senior vice president of printing and communications papers for the company's Americas region.

International Paper shares fell 22 cents to close at $31.23.

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