Pro-Gest finally starts containerboard machine in Mantua

The 405,000 tpy recycled containerboard mill in Mantua, Italy is finally in operation. Pro-Gest started test runs yesterday. This marks the completion of a long journey.

Pro-Gest’s subsidiary Cartiere Villa Lagarina has finally commissioned its new recycled corrugated case material machine at the Mantua mill in Italy. A company spokeswoman said that the PM was started on 23 November and will enter a test phase lasting a few weeks. The machine still needed to undergo some checks, she said, adding that first commercial volumes are likely to reach the market in December.

The PM in Mantua is rated to produce 405,000 tpy of testliner and fluting in grammages between 70 and 160 g/m². Despite adverse conditions in this year, the timing for a start-up is still not unfavorable: following a period of weakness over summer, recycled containerboard producers again report full order books.

Not only competitors from the recycled containerboard market but also recovered paper suppliers have been closely monitoring the developments at Mantua since the launch marks a new sales opportunity for recovered paper. The mill has already scouted for recovered paper and made the first contact with distributors, according to players on the market. However, the mill has already stood once at the starting blocks before backing off at the last moment, and at the time it had already built up recovered paper stocks. The company reportedly wants to mix these volumes with newly acquired recovered paper.

Mantua project was first announced in 2015
The market has been waiting long for the PM in Mantua to start operations. The start-up marks the completion of a long journey for Pro-Gest, which had to fight several battles in order to realize the project. It is also a financial relief as the mill, which has long been ready for start-up, burdened the company’s results. In the first half of 2020, the mill had a negative impact of almost €3m on the group’s Ebidta due to costs for maintenance of the non-operating activity.

The rebuilding project at Mantua was first announced in the middle of 2015. Numerous bureaucratic hurdles and citizens’ protests thwarted the realization of the project time and again. In 2018, the machine was poised to start-up but commissioning was delayed yet again. Pro-Gest was forced to make compromises, withdraw an incineration plant, and commissioned a fresh environmental audit. The company finally obtained all the necessary approvals to start production in May this year. Start-up was scheduled in July but was again deferred several times.

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