Russian pulp and paper group conducts large-scale modernisation of its Bratsk mill

 

Ilim Group, one of Russia’s largest pulp, paper and corrugated board producers, has officially completed a large-scale modernisation of its paper machine at its mill in the city of Bratsk (Irkutsk region).

As part of the project, the company invested more than US$120m to increase the output of the mill, by as much as 50% — from 198,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes per year.

Thanks to the modernisation project, the speed of the paper machine increased from the 550 to 800m per min, while productivity has now risen to 830 tonnes per day.

At the same time, the company is continuing reconstruction of its pulp line, which is expected to be completed next year and will result in the increase of its capacity up to 173,000 tonnes per annum.

World class

Denis Russkikh, Head of Production Department at Ilim Bratsk, comments, “The project has allowed us to change the paper machine dramatically. In fact, this is now essentially a new machine, as we have replaced almost all the key components and units, using some of latest technology available. We reviewed the data from many installationas around the world to ensure we were using the best systems possible.”

In addition to the paper machine, the company plans a complete reconstruction of the existing chemical water treatment plant and the installation of a new water treatment plant that will have a design capacity of 400 m3 per hour.

Over the coming 12 months, Ilim Group will commission a new woodyard at the Bratsk plant. It is planned that the new woodyard will include three lines with a total capacity of five million cubic meters of chips per year. The technology that will be used in its operations will contribute to a significant improvement of the quality of wood chips and reduce the consumption of resources, including electricity and water.

Group plans ongoing

According to Ksenia Sosnina, CEO of Ilim Group, the expansion of the Bratsk mill is part of Ilim’s large-scale investment program, which has a total cost of more than US$3bn.

Sosnina comments, “The modernisation at the Bratsk mill has affected the entire technological chain of paper production at the facility - from pulping operations to the packaging of finished products and logistics issues.”

The allocated investments will also allow the company to significantly improve the quality of finished products.

Wide product range

At present, the Bratsk mill is one of the largest paper and board producers in Russia. The mill has a diverse portfolio of products, including pulp, kraftliner, fluting, wood chemical products and round timber.

As part of Ilim’s plans, the expansion of the Bratsk mill will provide an opportunity to significantly strengthen its positions in the growing Asian market, particularly in the segment of packaging materials.

Particular hopes are put on the increase of exports to the Chinese market, with the Shandong Province being one of the most important export destinations in China, if not the entire Asian region.

Alexander Lykhin, Vice President of Ilim Asia and head of the Chinese branch of the company, comments, “The recent tightening of legislation in regard to food packaging safety in China will create a shortage of packaging materials in the local market. This is coupled with the introduction of a ban on fluorescent substances, as well as the expected shortage of raw materials for the production of testliners, particularly due to restrictions on the import of recovered fibre and the closure of old, environmentally problematic mills.”

International growth

In addition to the expansion of the Bratsk mill, the more active expansion of Ilim into the Asian region will be supported by the construction of a new pulp and paper mill at its other Siberian facility, which is located in the city of Ust-Ilimsk. It is planned that capacity of this mill will reach 600,000 tonnes per year. The volume of investment at the Ust-Ilimsk mill will amount to US$1bn, while its official commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2021. By this time, the volume of pulp production at the plant will also increase, reaching 130,000 tonnes annually. As a result of the project, total capacity of the Big Ust-Ilimsk branch of the company will reach 1.5m tons of finished products per year.

As a result of this significant investment project, the total output of the company will grow by 40% by 2024 and amount to 4.4m tons of various products.