In early 2021, Whakatane Mill Ltd (WML) was on the brink of closure. However, today, the company is thrilled to announce a significant investment upgrade, and progress is already well underway.
WML has successfully secured a substantial private investment of over NZD$70m from its shareholders, signalling the company’s robust health and promising future. This investment marks the most significant capital expenditure for WML since 2004 and is a testament to its commitment to growth. The infusion of funds will facilitate a major upgrade, elevating WML to industry-leading standards.
“The upgrade will deliver an additional 50,000 tonnes of premium folding box boards, increasing WML’s production from 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes. Customers will enjoy the advantages of higher quality board, while the production process will be more environmentally friendly, utilizing less raw materials and operating with improved energy efficiency. The upgrade is paving the way for WML to potentially produce up to 300,000 tonnes of premium folding box board in the future.
Enhanced Sustainability and Local Impact: Advancements in Energy, Water and Packaging
Per tonne of board, the energy efficiency will be approximately 30% better, gas consumption will be reduced by more than 30% and WML’s water consumption from the local river will also see a significant decrease.
Additionally, WML will eliminate plastic consumption by transitioning from plastic to paper wrap for packaging of its finished products. The heat recovery system will contribute significantly to WML’s ESG profile. As the sole folding box board producer in Australasia, WML’s advancements offer main brand owners such as DB Breweries, McDonalds, and Griffins the chance to reduce their carbon footprint and avoid importing packaging from countries like Finland, Korea, China, and Chile. This move towards sustainability presents a positive environmental impact.
European Sourced State-of-the-Art Equipment Marks New Phase in Whakatane Mill’s Expansion
Construction commenced in the last week of June and will continue until mid-late August with full production expected to be achieved by November 2023.
The equipment for the upgrade has been sourced from highly specialised manufacturers in Europe. The core equipment for the board machine, specifically the water removal/drying section, has been imported from Germany, while the fully automated paper wrap line originates from Finland, and the crucial heat recovery system has been acquired from Italy.
Fifty contracting companies from across the Bay of Plenty are involved in the upgrade with over four hundred contractors on site to install approximately 45 kilometres of cable and 5.5 kilometres of piping.
Ian Halliday, Executive Chairman of Whakatane Mill Limited, expressed his pride in this achievement, not only for the WML’s workforce but also for their commercial partners, customers, and the local community. As the largest private employer in Whakatane, with an 80-year history of exporting, this moment is a significant step towards a bright, positive, and sustainable future for WML.