Further reduces exposure to the graphic paper segment

Sappi confirms Lanaken Mill closure

The mill was one of the largest employers in the area

Sappi has confirmed the closure of its Lanaken Mill in Belgium, a move that will take out more than half a million tonnes of coated woodfree paper production for the heatset web offset market.

The consultation was announced just over three months ago. At the time Sappi cited significant overcapacity in graphic paper along with the global economic downturn and geopolitical instability.

Today (16 January), the group confirmed that production at the mill ceased in December.

Sappi Lanaken Mill was an integrated pulp and paper mill. It employed 581 workers and had a production capacity of 165,000tpa of pulp that was used to produce 530,000tpa of high-quality coated woodfree HSWO paper – mainly sold into the European print market.

The mill was one of the largest employers in the area. A social plan has been agreed for the employees, and Sappi expects the closure of the site to be completed in Q2 2024.

In a statement, Sappi Europe said: “For Sappi, our strategic focus includes reducing exposure to the graphic paper segment while expanding our presence in packaging, speciality papers, pulp and biomaterials.

“Sappi Europe is focused on building a sustainably resilient company. This requires evaluating the future of all facets of the business based on market dynamics and the market segments Sappi believe will be strongest in the future.”

Sappi expects to disclose details about the total financial impact in its Q1 results.

The previously-announced closure of Sappi’s Stockstadt Mill in Germany – which had produced 220,000tpa of coated and uncoated woodfree paper – is expected to be completed in Q1.

The two closures will take out around 30% of Sappi’s prior graphic paper capacity.

Sappi previously said that the closures would “significantly improve” the utilisation of its remaining graphic paper assets as well as improving its fixed cost position. It also said it was confident it would be able to switch the sales volume to its other mills.

Sappi Europe’s seven remaining mills have a combined capacity of 1,985,000tpa of graphic papers and 720,000tpa of packaging and speciality papers.

Sappi had global sales of $5.8bn (£4.58bn) in the financial year ending September 2023.