Ken Liu, CEO of ND Paper (left), in the woodyard of the Rumford mill. Credit: Courtesy of Linda Pepin | ND Paper

ND Paper announced Tuesday that it will invest in significant upgrades to its Rumford mill in the coming year.

The company will shut down its No. 9 machine in early 2020 for a rebuild to increase its pulp capacity, while its three paper machines — Nos. 10, 12 and 15 — will undergo significant upgrades as well to increase capacity and quality.

The No. 12 machine will be converted to focus on specialty packaging products, while the increased capacity to the other paper machines will allow the Rumford mill to maintain its current paper production with two machines, ND Paper said.

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ND Paper also plans upgrades to its mill in Biron, Wisconsin. A spokesman declined to release an anticipated dollar-figure for the investment, saying that the company feels it is in “our best interest to keep it private at this time” but described the investment as “substantial,” according to the Rumford Falls Times.

ND Paper strives to be a leading North American producer of pulp and paper products, including coated two-side, coated one-side and uncoated printing papers; containerboard; and market pulp. It said that these investments will ensure the Rumford and Biron mills can continue to “operate efficiently for decades to come.”

“We have four mills, three of which were built more than 100 years ago,” said Ken Liu, ND Paper’s CEO. “By focusing on high-return strategic investments, we are building world-class, first-quartile mills that deliver innovative, high quality products for our customers.”

The announcement comes after ND Paper said in October 2018 that it would invest $111 million in its Rumford and Biron mills.

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ND Paper, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd., acquired the Rumford mill from Canada-based Catalyst Paper in 2018. It also acquired the Biron mill from Catalyst in the $175 million deal. That sale came about four years after Catalyst acquired the Rumford mill from NewPage, which sold off the mill in compliance with an antitrust settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its 2015 merger with Verso Paper Corp.

ND Paper also owns another mill in West Virginia and the Old Town mill, which it purchased in 2018. That mill reopened in August.