Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 24 November 2011 -- Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) announced today that it has initiated the final stages of the conversion project at its Fortress specialty cellulose mill in Quebec, Canada. The mill has commenced its start-up phase with final process testing, which will include cold and hot water trials, together with the testing of safety systems scheduled to occur over the coming days. Production of dissolving pulp, beginning with wood chips, cooking is expected to commence shortly thereafter.
The minor delay in the scheduled completion of the conversion project has resulted from (1) the unexpected walkout in October of construction employees of contractors engaged by the company; (2) the extra time needed to fully ramp-up construction activities at the site after the walkout ended; (3) completion of identified improvements to infrastructure relating to buildings, supports, and the chip tower interconnection; and (4) implementation of enhancements to the mill’s safety and control systems.
"We look forward to the imminent production of dissolving pulp, which will signify an important milestone in the history of Fortress Paper," said Chad Wasilenkoff, chairman and chief executive officer of Fortress Paper. "We believe that the implementation of supplemental process control testing will provide for a more efficient ramp-up to commercial production."
Completion of the conversion project is currently materially on budget, with the exception of costs resulting from the unexpected walkout of construction workers, which remain to be quantified. The cogeneration project at the Fortress specialty cellulose mill is proceeding substantially on schedule, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2012.
Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress operates three mills: the Landqart mill in Switzerland, the Dresden mill located in Germany, and the Fortress specialty cellulose mill located in Canada. Fortress Paper's security papers include bank note, passport, and visa papers and its specialty papers include nonwoven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper's pulp business includes specialty pulp produced at the Fortress specialty cellulose mill, which is currently in the process of converting this capacity into dissolving pulp production, along with the construction of a biomass-based cogeneration plant.