Venezuelan Paper Mills

January 21, 2001

In December Vincent conducted a screw press workshop and presented a paper at a Pulp and Paper conference in Maracay, Venezuela. The trip offered a chance to study the pulp and paper industry typical of many small countries.

There are nine paper mills in Venezuela, one of which is shut down and another operating in bankruptcy. All of the nine have secondary fiber (recycle) operations. Four mills have virgin fiber operations: one Kraft long fiber (pine) mill; one CTMP (Chemical Thermo Mechanical Pulp) mill; one ground wood, and one that uses sugar cane bagasse as a furnish. Almost all of the mills have US parent firms. There is only one small mill that is still locally owned. Because of parent firm involvement, the paper making technology is relatively advanced. The engineers we met, all Venezuelan, were at a par with the personnel found in North American mills.

At a typical mill we saw coarse hydrapulper rejects going, quite wet, from a trommel (rotary drum) screen to landfill. No baler or screw press was used for further dewatering. The same mill had a pair of belt presses dewatering flocculated (polymer added) sludge and clarifier underflow. The cake from these was quite dry, 35% solids, due to a high ash content. This cake also was sent to landfill.

In North America we would have been enthused with the possibility of using a screw press for further dewatering in order to prevent drainage on the highway or to produce boiler fuel. However, in Venezuela the environmental regulations are fairly lax, and fuel is very cheap, so there is little opportunity of selling a press.

One mill did use a screw press on their sludge. This was acquired with an aim to producing fuel for a boiler. However the project was abandoned because of the high capital cost of a fluid bed combustor along with the low price of fuel oil.

The country is in poor financial condition and relatively unstable.

Issue 114