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The launch of the new Bracell pulp mill in São Paulo state, in Brazil, has resulted in the company becoming the largest dissolving pulp producer in the world, with a production capacity of up to 1.5 million tonnes of dissolving pulp or three million tonnes of kraft pulp per year at the new facility.
More significantly, the expansion of Bracell’s operations – known as Project Star and centered on the new Lençóis Paulista mill – has seen the company invest heavily in equipment and infrastructure to mitigate environmental impact and to deliver on its promise to create the ‘largest and greenest’ pulp mill in the world.
The new mill has the largest and cleanest recovery boiler in the world. The gasification plant at the mill uses 100% renewable biomass as feedstock to produce biogas. The state-of-the-art technology used in its energy production processes includes a new 440kV power substation. Surplus energy is shared to the national grid and helps provide power for up to 750,000 homes or about three million people.
In terms of fibre supply, Bracell uses 100% certified wood eucalyptus from reforestation as raw material for its pulp production. The wood is harvested from plantations in areas that were previously occupied by pasture or were degraded. This has a positive overall impact on the sequestration of carbon. Beyond its plantations, over 30% of the Bracell land bank is dedicated for conservation and restoration.
Earlier this year, Project Star received a resounding endorsement from the banking sector, with the announcement of a US$1.8 billion syndicated loan facility from a group of Brazilian and international banks. The seven-year loan facility is jointly led by Banco Bradesco and Bank of China, with participation from Banco Itaú, China Minsheng Bank, Banco do Brasil, Bladex and Safra.
Speaking at the announcement, Mr. Tey Wei Lin, President, RGE, said: “This underscores our commitment to sustainable development, conservation and community development, a mandate which underpins our operations globally. With dissolving pulp being both renewable and biodegradable, it caters to the growing trend and customers’ preference towards the use of sustainable products.”
Project Star has already reported some significant milestones. In October 2021, about a month after the new mill began operations, Bracell reported a total of 4,385 air dried tonnes per day on a single line, which is a production world record. In terms of specific drying capacity, this corresponds to 428 tonnes per day of output. This performance was enabled by one of Bracell’s key operations partners, international technology group Andritz, which provided the pulp drying systems sued at the new mill.
Bracell is vertically integrated through from its plantations through to the production of kraft pulp, dissolving pulp and specialty cellulose which are sold to domestic and international markets. Dissolving pulp and specialty cellulose are among the main ingredients used to create a wide range of products, from textiles, baby wipes and eyeglass frames to packaging for sausages and pharmaceuticals as well as industrial products such as high-performance tire cables.
Bracell held a launch ceremony on 5th November 2021, which saw about 1,200 participants attending over two legs. The company also had a Gala Dinner for its main vendors. Vendors and Bracell’s leadership gave their remarks and updates at the dinner, expressing support and gratitude for one another.