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Oji Kinleith Mill Showcases New Image

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This past week the Waikato Times, Hamilton, New Zealand, reported that the rebranding of Kinleith Mill was celebrated with an open day organized by its new owners, Oji Fibre (New Zealand).

One thousand registered visitors who attended the event  were shown around the site. Manufacturing manager John Patterson said that the plant had gone through a major change since new owner Oji Fibre Solutions took ownership in December 2014. Oji is the third largest pulp and paper manufacturer in the world.

"We wanted to celebrate that and we're trying to show the younger generation that this is an exciting place to work," Patterson said.

"It is a big employer, we've got an aging work force, so we need to bring a lot of younger people through and get all of the older fellas teaching how the mill works.  We'd like to see an interest from the younger people."

Groups of 50 where shown around the site, lasting 70 minutes. Patterson said that in the past the mill was seen as a polluter, so it was important to show the community what they were doing.

"We have extremely good environmental controls. We got resource consents granted for the next 25 years on the strength of our performance," Patterson said.

Mill manager Ian Whyte said that the new owners were helping them to get more out of their assets. He said Oji Fibre Solutions had helped them reduce production costs.

"They are very engaging; they've been working with us to help reduce the sheet break frequency on the paper machine. We've come from 13 a month to currently seven. That's a huge change for us. In time, we hope they'll bring capital to the mill," said Whyte.

South Waikato Mayor Neil Sinclair viewed the new owners with excitement and said that potential for economic growth was likely.

"There will be a long term commitment and, with the involvement with the Japanese government, the possibility of expansion and upgrade is more likely. It gives us stability, which is important."

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