Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 05 December 2011 -- Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) announced today that it has commenced dissolving pulp production at its Fortress specialty cellulose mill in Thurso, Quebec, and provided highlights of operations at its Dresden and Landqart mills.
The centerpiece of the Fortress specialty cellulose project, a new state of the art prehydrolized kraft cooking plant, came on line successfully on 04 December. The commencement of dissolving pulp production signifies the successful completion of the conversion of the mill into a dissolving pulp operation.
“This is a momentous day in the history of Fortress Paper and a culmination of our work at the Fortress specialty cellulose mill since acquiring the mill in April 2010," said Chad Wasilenkoff, chairman and chief executive officer of Fortress Paper. "We are very proud to join the limited group of dissolving pulp producers in the world and look forward to completing our first shipments. We would like to thank all those involved in helping bring this project on line.”
The Dresden mill continues to lead the nonwoven wallpaper base market globally. The order book remains strong and its recent upgrades to improve speed and capacity have been successfully implemented. During the past few months, Fortress Paper, in its normal course, has been reviewing each of its business divisions and assessing all options as part of its strategy to enhance shareholder value. As part of this ongoing evaluation, management identified a potential divestiture opportunity relating to its nonwoven wallpaper base division. Given the financial uncertainties and lack of financial confidence in the Euro zone, Fortress Paper management decided not to pursue any divestiture option for the Dresden mill. With the support of its management team in Germany, Fortress Paper intends to continue to grow this business division organically and potentially through strategic acquisitions.
The Landqart mill has continued to experience challenges throughout the fourth quarter as a result of a strong Swiss franc, high raw material costs, and less than optimal production efficiency on its paper machines. The company expects that these issues will continue to materially affect results of operations in the fourth quarter. The company anticipates that it will overcome many of these challenges with the new banknote paper orders that have recently been placed at the mill and which represent a significant portion of the mill's 2012 banknote capacity.
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 in Germany and the Fortress specialty cellulose mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper's security papers include banknote, passport, and visa papers, and its specialty papers include nonwoven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper's pulp business includes dissolving pulp produced at the Fortress specialty cellulose mill.