Australian Paper's Maryvale Mill is in the midst of one of its biggest annual shutdowns in its 81-year history as the company tips more than $50 million into upgrading and maintaining its equipment to ensure its operation into the future.
The company says the investment highlights Australian Paper's commitment to remain one of the Latrobe Valley's biggest employers and forms part of a five-year investment plan worth $200 million.
- The investment is worth $51 million.
- More than 30 capital works projects will be completed in less than a month.
- The shut is one of the longest in the mill's history, spanning 26 days.
- Fifty local businesses will be enlisted to assist with the shut down.
- Works are expected to improve reliability and performance of the mill.
- More than 1000 workers are expected onsite in peak periods – more than three times the normal number.
- Three-thousand-five-hundred individual maintenance projects are to be completed.
- The works form part of a five-year investment program worth $200 million.
Australian Paper general manager manufacturing Adrian Berton said the spend was a sign of hope for the region and would improve the plant's performance given a number of reliability issues in recent times.
"The investment back into the facility is recognition that the organisation has had a considerable turn around over the past five years and we're just looking to secure the operations from a manufacturing footprint perspective," Mr Berton said yesterday.
"Simply the length of the shut – so the duration with it being a 26-day shut – which is significantly longer than the previous shuts and the size of the investment that's occurring during the shut.
"There's two key elements – the first is the annual shut component where we do some annual base maintenance and the second part is the execution of $51 million of capital [and] within that ... there's in excess of 30 capital projects being executed."
Existing employees will work during the shut, performing a number of different duties as the company calls on the experience of more than 50 local companies to assist with the annual outage.
More than 1000 workers are expected to be on site during peak periods, more than three times the normal number, completing 66,000 hours of work in less than a month.
"The three key projects for us are the replacement of the economiser on R5 recovery boiler [which] is one of the key components for the renewable energy which we generate on site," Mr Berton said.
"The second part is a $15 million investment in M4 paper machine which is our largest packaging grade paper machine, so that's a significant investment.
"The third part is the $5.5 million investment in the lime kiln which is part of our pulping process."
While the projects are expected to improve operational efficiency and reliability, the company said the shut would also extend the life of the mill.
"We've been here for 80 years. I guess we expect it to be here for another 80 years and I guess that's our role as an organisation to ensure we have that sustainable growth for the next generation," Mr Berton said.
"When we talk about the sustainability, we're talking about the rejuvenation of the equipment so each of those improvements renews the asset life of the equipment and also incorporates improved operational reliability and efficiencies as well."
Australian Paper general manager engineering Shaun Appelgren said the company was preferencing local contractors for the work given the availability of workers locally.