SOUTH AFRICA – Packaging and specialty paper manufacturer Sappi has officially opened its Saiccor mill after the latest US$437.13 million (R7.7 billion) expansion and environmental upgrade.

The President of South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, graced the occasion in Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal.

The project answered President’s call for investment in the South African economy and was first officially announced at the Presidential Investment Conference in 2018.

President Ramaphosa was joined in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony by a delegation of representatives, including Mr. Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade & Industry and Competition, Ms. Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and Mr. Siboniso Duma, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

They were joined by the Global Board Chairman of Sappi Limited, Sir Nigel Rudd, Mr. Steve Binnie, CEO of Sappi Limited and Mr. Alex Thiel, CEO of Sappi Southern Africa.

Commenting on the investment, Sir Nigel Rudd said, “The board believes that the South African forestry industry is globally competitive and can make further substantial contributions to the South African economy. This investment reflects our confidence in our South African operations.”

Explaining the reason for Sappi’s investment in dissolving pulp (DP), Mr. Steve Binnie said, “Global demand continues to grow for renewable textiles derived from sustainable woodfibre. Sappi supplies over fifty percent of the world’s Lyocell demand, the next-generation textile material made from cellulosic fibers.

“This expansion project not only meets customer demand for greater DP production and in particular Lyocell, but also significantly reduces the mill’s environmental footprint and supports Sappi’s decarbonization journey, whilst also generating an additional ZAR1 billion per annum in direct benefit to the KwaZulu-Natal economy.”

He went on to express his gratitude to all Sappi role-players who had conceptualized the project and brought it to fruition, despite difficult conditions and interruptions resulting from Covid-19 restrictions.

“By using renewable and sustainably sourced wood to produce circular, innovative biobased products, Sappi continues to have a positive impact on society and the planet by reducing and replacing the need for fossil-based products. In doing this, we are realizing our purpose of building a thriving world,” he added.

The Saiccor Mill, acquired by Sappi in 1989, established Sappi’s global reach into the lucrative international DP markets.

Since its inception, the mill has undergone three expansion projects to keep pace with global demand.

Branded as ‘Verve’, almost all of the DP produced at the mill is sold globally into the viscose staple fibers (VSF) markets for use in textiles and clothing for leading brands.

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