With their Thurso pulp mill in the midst of being converted to a dissolving pulp producer, Fortress Paper Ltd CEO Chadwick Wasilenkoff traveled to China last month to meet with potential buyers of their soon-to-be available new product. The region, he said, was a prime market for the dissolving pulp – a product used in the textile industry for the creation of rayon.
“The largest viscose producers (in the world) are expanding their capacity, but none of them have focused on a supply chain – where they’re going to get this rayon pulp,” Wasilenkoff said in an interview with Colorado radio station KRCN.
This week, Fortress Paper announced they had reached an agreement to supply dissolving pulp to two Chinese rayon producers.
As part of the agreement, Fortress will deliver a total of 84,000 air dried metric tons of dissolving pulp annually to the Chinese companies for a period of five years starting in the third quarter of 2011, when the Thurso mill is expected to be fully converted.
The mill expected to have a production capacity of more than 200,000 air dried metric tons of dissolving pulp annually.
Rayon is seeing a sizeable growth across the globe, especially in Asia. Currently rayon represents about four per cent of the textile industry but that number is growing. In China alone, the rayon market is growing at a rate of nearly ten per cent annually, and those numbers are only expected to increase as regulations on cotton and depleting supplies impact what used to be the textile industry’s go-to fibre.
Rayon is also gaining in popularity because while demand for cotton – the world’s most popular textile fibre – is steadily increasing, production of cotton is actually decreasing.