Fibre Excellence leases Chapelle Darblay site from Veolia


French pulp manufacturer Fibre Excellence and environmental services group Veolia are making some progress with the implementation of the Chapelle Darblay conversion project in France. Fibre Excellence announced that it had leased the paper mill site, which is to be rebuilt for the production of corrugated case material, from Veolia and that it had taken over operational management. Production at the mill located near Grand-Couronne in Northern France could restart in 2027.

Fibre Excellence's lease runs until the end of 2024. During this time, the financing of the project is to be secured, a company spokesperson told EUWID. In order to obtain the necessary permits for the conversion, Veolia would have been required to demonstrate expertise in the field of paper production, a competence which it did not have as a waste management company, the Fibre Excellence spokesperson said, explaining one of the reasons behind Veolia's decision to lease the plant.

Fibre Excellence plans to acquire the Chapelle Darblay mill from Veolia after the lease expires. Veolia is to remain a project partner and to supply raw material to the plant in the future. It was already agreed that the company will supply the site with recovered paper for an initial period of ten years. The Chapelle Darblay mill will produce up to 400,000 tonnes per year (tpy) of recycled corrugated case material once it has been converted. This would require some 450,000 tpy of recovered paper for production, of which Veolia would deliver at least 225,000 tpy, said Fibre Excellence.

Production at the rebuilt site is planned to start between the end of 2026 and the beginning of 2027, according to the company spokesperson.

Fibre Excellence sees the supply contract with Veolia as an important prerequisite for realising the project and drawing up a financial plan. "Supplies are a strategic issue for the conversion of the plant and securing them provides essential guarantees to obtain the necessary financing," said Jean-François Guillot, the president of the pulp company.

The search for financing options is now to be tackled next. Fibre Excellence put the total investment volume at €280m, including €30m in equity from Fibre Excellence and €30m in public support through various schemes.

In May 2022, Veolia took over the former Chapelle Darblay newsprint mill from the Métropole Rouen Normandie association of municipalities, which had previously acquired the facility from UPM. The plan was to convert Chapelle Darblay together with Fibre Excellence to the production of corrugated case material. A variety of scenarios were considered, including the establishment of a separate project company to operate the mill. Current plans also call for the modernisation of the site’s biomass cogeneration plant.

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