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Ningbo Xiaogang: epic scale mill has big future plans.

In many ways, the new Ningbo Xiaogang containerboard mill is a microcosm of today's Chinese paper industry. Like the industry it represents, it is carved out of a previously undeveloped area, is built on a massive scale, and has big plans for the future.

To find the mill, you wend your way through a special industrial zone, where you are greeted by several large billboards announcing the virtues of industrial development. One the most memorable billboard slogans is "Tiding over difficulties to achieve brilliance." The mill itself is located close to a half modern, half wreck of a small village--which includes a luxury hotel with a first class restaurant.



The Ningbo Xiaogang mill houses the world's largest containerboard machine, and directly across from the mill is what may be the world's largest pile of wastepaper. The mill itself is truly epic, with the machine hall well over half a mile long. The five-headbox, two-shoe press, five-coating station Metso board machine produces gigantic rolls of 250-400 gsm white lined chipboard (WLC). The machine is 410 meters from headbox to winder. Design production is 2045 metric tons/day and 700,000 metric tons/yr. Most of the cartonboard is used to make packaging for consumer products. The boardmaking line exceeded its quality and production targets on several basis weights shortly after start-up.




With the two shoe presses, PM1 achieves 47% dryness after the press. The machine has eight stock lines feeding pulp for the various plies that are combined as chipboard. The mill uses about 90% recycled paper in its furnish. Ningbo Xiaogang produces some of the smoothest white-lined chipboard in the world, and uses CD coat weight control and a MetsoDNA automation system. The mill ships about 70% of its board in reel form and 30% in sheet form. The mill represents a total investment of 16 million RMB (US$ 2 million).

The new mill, located in the town of Xiaogang, Ningbo City, Zhejiang province, China, is managed by Ningbo Asia Pulp and Paper. The company received a license in 2000 to build the mill; Metso Paper supplied the new board production line in less than 18 months. Ningbo Zhonghua Paper Co. is the principal owner of the mill, with a 50% ownership share. The remaining 50% is divided between Asia Pulp and Paper China and Ningbo Ningshing Co., Hong Kong. The nearby Ningbo Zhonghua mill, built in 1985, has three machines with an annual capacity of 500,000 metric tons of coated paperboard.

The new mill has a power plant with two 62 MW turbines as well as a modern wastewater treatment plant. Recycled fiber for the mill comes from the United States (70%) and Japan (30%), while virgin pulp comes from Canada and the group's mills in Indonesia and Hainan Island, China.

Sea access was one of the deciding factors in choosing Xiaogang as the site for the new mill, and the company is building a new seaport there. The seaport provides immediate access to shipments of recycled paper and coal, the principal fuel for the mill. Ningbo Xiaogang also uses the port to ship about 35% of its total production by sea to southern China.


The new mill produces high quality duplex and triplex WLC grades. For duplex board, only the top layer is coated; both sides are coated in triplex board, which is used mainly for high-quality packaging (cigarettes, cosmetics, clothing, shoes, etc.) Duplex board is used for consumer products such as food packaging and tissue.


Most of the production from Xiaogang is sold to agents and large Chinese printing houses, with export markets expected to develop in the future. Board consumption in China, currently about 7 to 8 million metric tons annually, is growing 12 to 15% annually--faster even than the total Chinese economy.


The duplex and triplex furnishes include about 10% virgin pulp and 90% recycled fiber and broke. Two virgin pulp lines supply short fiber (LBKP) and one line supplies long fiber (NBKP) pulp, using OptiSlush batch pulpers followed by HCCleaners, OptiFiner deflakers, and OptiFiner low-consistency refiners.

The virgin pulp lines have a total designed capacity of 710 metric tons/day, and are used mainly for the top and back layer of the board. Triplex board uses some LBKP in the back ply to increase its strength and efficient refining provides very good surface and smoothness qualities.

The five recycled fiber lines provide pulp from deinked wastepaper, old newspapers, mixed waste, sorted office waste, and old corrugated containers. The five lines have a combined capacity of 2500 metric tons/day. The recycled fiber lines use OptiSlush drum or continuous pulpers, OptiScreen coarse and fine screens, OptiBright flotation cells, OptiDaf microflotation units and OptiFiner dispersers and low consistency refiners. Thickening, bleaching, and reject handling systems were also delivered by Metso Paper.

PM 1 is controlled with a metsoDNA system as well as dilution headbox controls using a basis weight profiler, IQCoatDryCD profiling with 2-row electrical IR and Metso coat weight profiling of topcoat stations.

Construction of PM1 started in May 2003. The start-up began with stock preparation on Sept. 18, 2004, followed by uncoated paper production on Oct. 28 and coated board production on Nov. 23. WLC quality has been very good since startup, with excellent smoothness, gloss, and bulk, according to the mill. PM1 produced saleable quality WLC from the first roll.


The current mill site has room for three or four board machines and the company already has plans to create what it calls the world's largest papermaking city in Xiaogang. The company's target is to reach 5 million metric tons/yr of production at the site within five to eight years. While this seems like an astounding goal, the potential for future expansion depends on how fast the Chinese economy grows--and so far the economy has shown no signs of slowing down.



* How the Ningbo Xiaogang mill is a microcosm of the Chinese pulp and paper industry

* Details of the new giant chipboard machine and related equipment

* How the company plans to create a "Board City" in Xiaogang


* "A Glimpse of the Future in China: Two New APP Mills," by Nie Xiaorong, Solutions!, April 2005. To access this article, type the following product code in the search field on 05APRSO21. Or call TAPPI Member Connection at 1 800 332-8686 (US); 1 800 446-9431 (Canada); +1 770 446 1400 (International)

* "China: Beyond The Boom," by Alan Rooks, Solutions!, September 2005. Product Code: 05SEPSO25

* "Jiangxi Chenming Drives Chinese LWC Market," by Alan Rooks, Solutions!, December 2005. Product Code: 05DECSO27
COPYRIGHT 2006 Paper Industry Management Association
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Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:MILL PROFILE
Author:Rooks, Alan
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Geographic Code:4EUFI
Date:May 1, 2006
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