Lenzing Plans US Tencel Plant
The supervisory board of Austria’s Lenzing has approved plans to build a Tencel fiber plant in the US. The news follows two previously announced expansion projects as the group aims to boost its revenues from specialty fibers in the next four years. The cellulose fiber is used in the textile industry and for nonwovens.
The new facility in Mobile, Alabama, will be the largest Tencel fiber plant in the world, with a capacity of 90,000 t/y. Investment costs will total $293 million, and start-up is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.
Lenzing currently has a global capacity for Tencel of 220,000 t/y. With the new plant in Mobile plus the debottlenecking projects in Heiligenkreuz, Austria, and Grimsby, UK, its total output will climb by more than 50% by 2019.
The company revealed in August that it would invest a total €100 million to expand capacity for the specialty fibers across Europe, with about €70 million to be spent at Heiligenkreuz and another €30 million at Lenzing. Capacity at the sites, including Grimsby, will rise by a total of 35,000 t/y by mid-2018.
The Austrian textiles and fibers group said the decision to locate the plant in the US was because of the good infrastructure at the Mobile site as well as its attractive energy costs. “This investment represents another major milestone in the implementation of our corporate strategy sCore TEN. It will bring us a big step further to reach our target of 50 percent revenue from specialty fibers by 2020,” commented CEO Stefan Doboczky.
In order to carry out the “disciplined implementation” of its expansion program, Lenzing has created a new management board role that combines key technical, operational and engineering responsibilities. To this end, it has appointed former BASF executive Heiko Arnold as its new chief technology officer, with responsibility for all technical departments within Lenzing.