Although less damaging than the earthquake in Haiti, the 27 February earthquake in Chile has been more widely felt in the pulp and paper industries of the world.
About 8% of world market pulp production comes from Chile, but mills affected by the quake had to be shut down for clean-up, safety inspections, and possible repairs, removing nearly 90% of normal production from supply. Some mills also lost power and water following the quake. A subsequent blackout 14 March, said to have resulted from a damaged transformer, affected nearly 90% of the nation.
In Finland, a dockworkers strike has halted shipping into and out of the country since 04 March. As a consequence, several newsprint and pulp mills have closed, reducing internal demand for pulp, but also cutting into the 1.5 million metric tons of pulp shipping from the country annually.
In Portugal, even before the earthquake and dockworkers strike, Altri announced an increase in the price of its bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp, following a similar increase by Suzano in Brazil. Suzano is the second largest exporter of pulp from South America.
Also in Brazil, Fibria Celulose SA, the world’s largest pulp producer, saw initial stock market gains on speculation that pulp supplies would be interrupted, but lost some of that gain as production has begun to return in Chile.
In India, domestic paper and newsprint producers are reported to have increased prices 19% to 24% in response to increased costs for raw materials. Paper for recycling from the United States also has become harder to get as the U.S. rate of recovery and recycling has increased.
In the United States, AF&PA is reporting that a record-high 57.4% of the paper consumed in the United States was recovered for recycling in 2008. However, “the global recession resulted in a sharp decline in demand for paper and recovered fiber at the end of 2008, resulting in decreases in consumption and overall tons recovered. The long-term impact of the slowdown will depend on the speed with which the economy rebounds.”
In Russia, the news concerns whether or not the pulp and paper mill along ancient Lake Baikal in southern Siberia will resume production. The mill, built in 1966, has been opposed by environmentalists who want to protect the pristine qualities of Lake Baikal. The mill has capacity to produce 200,000 metric tons of unbleached pulp and has switched to a closed water cycle. Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, signed a proclamation in January 2010 that allows pulp and paper production in the region, thus also allowing more than 1000 local residents to return to work at the mill.