1 July 2021. UPM's newsprint mill Chapelle Darblay in France will be sold and produce hydrogen in the future. This officially marks the end of paper production at one of the last two newsprint mills in the country.
UPM's idled Chapelle Darblay newsprint mill will not produce any paper in the future, neither newsprint nor any other type of paper. The company has selected a buyer for the site and is in final negotiations, but the player is not from the paper industry.
According to the Filpac CGT trade union, the mill in Grand-Couronne, France will become a hydrogen plant. 70 jobs are expected to be created, which is far less than the 230 jobs that were lost when the plant was closed.
According to Filpac CGT, the final decision will be officially pronounced on Friday, 2 July. The deadline for the presentation of takeover offers ended on 30 June. UPM does not want to comment on the transaction at this time. The company said it was still in talks with the bidder, French investment company Samfi Investment, and could not disclose any details yet.
Trade union disapproves hydrogen project
Filpac CGT has called for a protest action on 2 July. The union doubts the feasibility of the hydrogen project and favours a takeover by a player from the paper industry. This would allow for more former employees to be rehired. It reported there was a project from a consortium to continue paper production and that the players had asked for an extension of the deadline to prepare an offer. However, UPM is reportedly not prepared to extend the deadline, saying that the hydrogen project was the only binding offer.
The Chapelle Darblay mill, one of the last two newsprint mills in France with a capacity of 240,000 tpy, was officially closed at the end of June 2020, after standing still for several months. UPM then agreed to wait another year before dismantling and to try and sell the site.
Belgium's VPK Group, which was interested in converting the mill to the production of corrugated case material, was long considered a promising suitor for a takeover. However, the group backed out and instead recently announced the takeover of French fine paper mill Alizay from Double A, where it now intends to realise the conversion project.