In 2009, China became the worlds largest producer of
paper and board (P&B) with an estimated 90m. tpa worth of
production up from 78m. tpa in 2008. It is projected that
Chinese P&B output could reach 98m. tpa by the end of this
The growth has been rapid from the
20m. tpa figure in 1995 and is based on the following key
factors which help to make Chinese paper so competitive in the
China has the largest population in
the world and has shown strong growth. The countrys
population today stands at 1.34bn, accounting for 20% of the
worlds people and this is in a country where child birth
is government controlled.
The dragon has shown continuing GDP
growth of between 8-10% over the last decade.
This has driven P&B demand per
capita (kg) in China from 36kg in 2003 to 59kg in 2008 and the
remaining growth left in the country is providing strong
fundamentals for continuing growth.
China is deficient in pulp fibre
and imports mainly from Asia and South America. It also imports
46% of the worlds recovered paper. While shortage of
fibre is a negative the utilisation of so much of the
worlds recovered paper is a plus as it does not have to
be burned (adding to CO2 in the atmosphere) or
dumped in landfill sites.
Investment in key areas has been
encouraged by the Chinese government and large international
companies have invested in state-of-the-art modern paper mills.
The whole sector has been a bonanza for equipment and other
suppliers. Projects are mega-scale with just one new proposed
paper machine planned to produce 1.6m. tpa paper.
China has also state-of-the art
paper machines handling both speed and width imported from
Metso and Voith.
Modern machines produce a better
base paper than older machines which is an advantage for China.
With new machines, the quality of paper can be checked
automatically online and does not need such experienced paper
engineers to operate as older machines.
Ground calcium carbonate (GCC) is
the main paper pigment utilised as filler, pre-coating and
coating pigment. In China, there is a shortage of high quality
kaolin deposits suitable for paper coating although it does
have abundant sources of high quality marble near to the main
Key developments have been the
installation of satellite wet-grinding technology for GCC.
The first satellite plant in China
was at APP Ningbo Chung Hua mill in 1993 with a capacity of
30,000 tpa. In 1997, APP Dagang commissioned ECC International
(now Imerys) to build a turnkey 250,000 tpa GCC satellite
Now, finer grades are being
developed (up to 98 %<2μm). Previously topcoats were a
blend of 70% GCC and 30% kaolin. The ratio is now 85-90% GCC
plus 10-15% kaolin. With more GCC usage in the higher coating
colour solids saves energy on drying costs.
Chinese Printing and Writing paper
(P&W) is being developed with a much higher pigment loading
than elsewhere in the world. Pigment loadings of 40-50% are now
common and new machines will run, for the first time anywhere
in the world, with up to 55% pigment loading (mainly GCC).
This gives clear cost advantages as
GCC in China is relatively cheap (compared with GCC offered in
other parts of the world) and helps to offset the more
expensive pulp fibre (often ~$890-930/tonne).
In many of the Chinese paper mills
an experienced workforce from Taiwan are involved in the
manufacture, research and development, and planning which helps
to shorten time for commissioning of new project within a two
Another important aspect is that
Taiwanese have been the bridge to transfer western technology
to China primarily because of the common language between the
two as well as cultural similarities.
Good infrastructure and logistics
has also been a strong point for China. Large ports and
container traffic make it a good place to export from. Internal
logistics are also good with modern highways and shipment by
rivers and canals.
Figure 1: World P&B production in 2008 by
for 391 mt
P&B Asia production of 152.2mt for 2008 by country
Source: RISI Global Report
Figure 2: Growth of GCC in China from 1992 to 2008
(KT) for all markets
Paper and board production
The global production of Paper and Board in 2008 was 391m.
tonnes and a geographical split in Figure 1 shows Asia with 39%
followed by Europe (28%) and North America (25%).
For Asia with 39% of global
production, China has 52% of production with Japan in second
place with 20%.
China accounted for 20.5% of world
production in 2008 but in 2009 achieved production of 90m. tpa
thus becoming the world leader. In 2008, four
countries USA, China, Japan and Germany accounted for
55% of global production with the top ten countries accounting
In 2009, Chinese P&W paper has
increased significantly giving it the number one position for
production in the world.
For its wood pulp China relies
heavily on imported material mainly from Asia and South
America. World imports of wood pulp total almost 44m. tpa of
which China imports 8.04m. tpa or 20.3% of the total.
Chinas pulp imports in
December 2009 reached 1m. tpa according to the General
Administration of Customs in China. Imports of pulp rose 44%
from 2008 levels to 13.68m. tpa.
The world use of recovered paper is
50.84m. tpa of which 24.2m. tpa (48%) is imported into China
Ð this is a very significant quantity and shows that China
is mopping up almost half of the worlds waste paper.
In 2008, the total wood pulp
apparent consumption in China was 16.9m. tpa, up 11.5% from
2007. Total wood pulp exports in the world in 2008 was 50.84m.
tpa and not surprisingly China only exported 10,000 tonnes
(0.02% of total).
One of the main driving forces in
development of the Chinese paper industry has been the rapid
increase of P&B demand per capita in kg.
For 2008, USA per capita demand was
265.9/kg and China was 59.1/kg. The world average was 57.8/kg
with average for Asia put at 40.4/kg Other figures are Hong
Kong 184.2/kg and at the other end of the scale India is just
8.5/kg and Iraq 1.5/kg. China is thus developing very quickly
as its figure back in 2003 was just 36/kg.
The price of NBSK pulp in the USA
in February 2010 was $874/tonne and $849/tonne in Europe. The
price of Chinese pulp is at present $890/tonne with imported
NBSK pulp at $923/tonnes.
China has developed very quickly
over the last 15 years and a comparison of P&B output with
production of close to 80m. tpa. Food packaging is the biggest
market for P&B accounting for 55% of consumption. Other
major markets are printing, news and tissue paper.
An engineer inspects a roll of paper at UPM-Kymmene
A comparison of P&B production for USA, China and Japan,
the top three producers in the world indicates that in 2009
China assumed the leading production position with 90m. tpa.
The USA and Japan show decreases in production from 2007 to
One of the important sectors is
P&W uncoated and coated grades. China is the largest
producer of uncoated wood-free with coated wood-free grades
showing similar output from USA, China and Japan.
However, in 2009, China increased
its CWF significantly and is now number one in the world. China
has low output of uncoated mechanical and coated mechanical
compared to USA, Japan, Germany and Finland.
Paper mills are widespread in
coastal China with the main concentration of production in the
provinces of Shandong, Yangzte River area (inland from
Shanghai), Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces and Hainan
An important producing region is
the Yangzte river area inland from Shanghai. Here international
paper group such as APP (an Indonesia/Singapore group), YFYu
(Taiwan), UPM-Kymmene (Finland), Stora Enso (Sweden) and
planned Oji (Japan) mill.
Some paper mills in Shandong
province including IP Sun (Sun Paper and International Paper),
Chenming, Hua Tai and Rizhao Sen Bo.
Metso will supply a coated fine
paper production line to Shandong Huatai Paper Co. Ltd, member
of Huatai Group, in Dong Ying City, Shandong Province, China.
The start-up of the production line is scheduled for the first
quarter of 2011. The total value of the order is approximately
The Shandong Huatai mill is located
in Dong Ying City, Shandong Province. Huatai Group has three
production bases, Huatai Green Industry Park, Huatai Qinghe
Green Ecology Industry Park and Rizhao Huatai Pulp & Paper
Industry Park, with an annual capacity of 1.6m. tpa.
China continues to increase its
capacity with some major new projects totalling 6.3m. tpa due
to be commissioned in the next few years.
Figure 3: P&B production from 1994-2009 (Estimated)
for Japan and China (MT)
Pigments used in China paper mills
The main pigment used in paper in China is GCC. Local kaolin is
available for coating and much is still imported. PCC has
become acceptable as a filler pigment but coating is still
Talc continues to be used mainly
for pitch control based on resources in China (still the
largest talc producer in the world). Talc as a filler has
largely been replaced by GCC due to lower cost and
availability. Other minerals such as calcined clay are
utilised. There is still the opportunity for new products to be
used such as Synthetic Calcium Carbonate (SCC) and some other
minerals as well.
Back in the early 1990s the production of wet ground calcium
carbonate (GCC) in China was very limited with low brightness
chalk being imported from ECC in the UK and Omyas French
operations as powder and made-down on-site into slurry for use
as a coating pigment.
The growth of GCC, almost all based
on marble, for all uses has been dramatic with an increase from
280,000 tpa in 1992 to an estimated 18.44m. tpa in 2008.
Marble deposits are widespread in
China with major areas of production in Guangxi, Anhui,
Zhejiang and other provinces.
With finer grinding to 98wt.% <2
μm there will a reduction in brightness if traces of
graphite and pyrites are present Ð the presence of small
amounts (often just 100-200ppm) tends to have a smearing
This graphite and pyrites can be
removed by air flotation but generally no flotation is carried
out in China.
Global GCC production for 2008 is
estimated at 80m. tpa with Asia now accounting for 35%.
In Asia, China accounts for 66% of
production and 23% of total GCC global production China is
now the leading producer in the world of finer-grade products
(USA with 24% of production includes coarser-grained
The market utilisation in China
shows 35% utilised in paper.
In 2008 total output of GCC was
18.44m. tpa (of which 35% or 6.45m. tpa was for paper) with
estimates for total GCC output in 2009 put at 21m. tpa. A plot
of P&B output against GCC output from 1994 to 2009. This
graph is directional as clearly total P&B includes tissue
paper and newsprint which does not use GCC.
Figure 4: Production of GCC in Asia
for all markets for 2008/2009 (%)
GCC capacity in Asia of 27.8mt by country in 2008/9
Figure 5: Chinese O&W production for 2007 and 2008
|Total Paper and Board
| % Increase over previous year
|Printing & Writing
| % Increase over previous year
| Uncoated Woodfree
| Coated Woodfree
| Uncoated Mechanical
| Coated Mechanical
PCC has been used for many years as a filler pigment in paper.
However, PCC for coating has not become established yet in
China. It is understood that the main reason for this is the
difficulty of finding a suitable limestone with the correct
chemistry that will produce an acceptable coating PCC.
However, the main reason is
probably that GCC is high quality and cheaper to produce. On
site PCC production is carried out at APP Dagang (APP Gold East
Paper) with filler and coating products though, the use of
coating PCC is said to be limited.
Capacity of PCC Coating at APP Gold
East is said to be 50,000 tpa and 100,000 tpa for filler. At
APP Gold Hua Suzhou the filler PCC capacity is 50,000 tpa.
Hangzhou Huajing Calcium Carbonate
Co., Ltd. was established in March 2002 producing high quality
PCC. It is located in Hangzhou City, the capital of Zhejiang
It is situated close to Hangzhou
Hua Feng Paper Co., Ltd. It is not a satellite plant of Hua
Feng Paper but a merchant PCC plant. Hangzhou Huajing was set
up as a joint venture between Hangzhou Hua Feng Paper Co., Ltd.
and Hong Kong Xu Rong Co. Ltd.
The company imported PCC technology
and processing line from the Italian company Cimprogetti in
2002 and 2003 to produce high quality PCC for cigarette paper.
Hua Feng Paper used to own 30% of Hangzhou Huajing and Hongkong
Xu Rong held 70% of the company shares.
In 2005, Schaefer Kalk started to
give technical help to Hangzhou Huajing and this led to them
taking a 70% controlling interest in the company with remaining
shares belong to Hua Feng Paper (9%) and other minority
There are many other PCC producers
in China and overall production is estimated at 3m. tpa for all
markets. Coal, a cheap source of energy in China, is used to
convert the limestone to lime.
Coating clay continues to be imported from Brazil. Other
countries are looking at exporting kaolin to China and WAK
Holdings Pty Ltd, developing coating clay from its deposits in
Western Australia, has carried out successful pilot trials in
The search for high quality kaolin
deposits in China continues as significant production is
limited to Maoming in Guangdong Province.
The main producer is Maoming Kaolin
Science & Technology Co. Ltd, often referred to as Gao Ke
with plant capacity of 250,000 tpa based on 150,000 tpa of
spray-dried product at 1.5% (3 spray dryers each with capacity
of 50,000 tpa and 100,000 tpa of filter cake product at 35%
Gao Ke MMK produces Grades MM01,
MM02, MO1 and MO2 are for paper coating and MO3 is for
pre-coating of paper. However, the sedimentary kaolinitic sand
of Maoming has a low yield from matrix and for the 95% <2
micron grade is probably less than 10%.
At present some MM01 is used by UPM
Kymmene in topcoat blended with GCC at 95wt.% <2μm (GCC
80%: kaolin 20%). Quality of MM01 has improved over the last
few years and whilst rheology is not as good as imported kaolin
it is used without problems as only at 20% loading as blended
At present some 30,000 tpa of
calcined clay is used in paper each year. This is mainly being
used in the precoat formulation in coated board to improve
Most of the worlds leading paper producers now have a
presence in China. As growth in North America and Europe has
slowed, China, with a large population and steady rise of GDP
has been attractive for establishment of new operations.
While paper mills are closing
elsewhere China continues to grow. An attempt here is made to
look at some of the paper sectors and determine what market
share foreign companies have.
The P&W production figures for
China for 2007 and 2008 are shown in Figure 5.
For coated wood-free (CWF) the
output in 2008 was 4.6m. tonnes and for 2009 this is estimated
at 5.5m. tonnes. Of this 5.5m. tonnes it is estimated that
foreign companies account for 2.5m. tonnes of output in 2009
representing 45%. This is significant and with additional
capacity being added in 2010 this figure will increase
For uncoated wood-free the
production is 2009 is estimated at 14m. tpa with foreign
companies just accounting for over 4% of output.
For other grades foreign companies
account for 37.5% of corrugating packaging, 16% of tissue
grades and just 3% of newsprint.
Overall, foreign companies account
for about 19% of Chinese paper production.
At present APP China is mulling
over an investment in 1.2m. tpa of additional printing/writing
(P&W) paper capacity at Dagang. Oji Paper (Japan) will also
commence its operations in the next year or so.
Contributors: Ian Wilson is a UK-based consultant in
industrial minerals. Larry Lai is president of Shanghai-based
Yie-Lie Enterprise in China.
Chinas paper hub:
mineral operations and paper mills throughout the
Where is Chinas paper
Based on an output of 79.8m. tpa from china