Chilean wood pulp producers Copec and CMPC are cashing in on high cellulose prices, which rose to a year-to-date high of 708.7 US dollars a ton on Tuesday. This is the highest price for cellulose since 2002, the disastrous year when cellulose prices fell to 433.2 US dollars a ton.
The cellulose market is expected to improve even more. Finnish company Foex said it expects US prices to reach 770 per ton, and EU prices to reach 730 per ton sometime in September.
Copec, one of the world's largest cellulose producers and a part of the Angelini Group, has seen profits grow by 7% this year, while CMPC, controlled by the Matte Group, had profits increase by 18%.
Experts said the continuing rise in the price of the renewable material is a result of fewer cellulose plants, operational problems, and increased demand from Asia and Europe.
Environmental issues related to wood pulp mills are drawing more attention to the industry. Fishermen in southern Chile are currently fighting Copec's attempts to deposit waste into the Pacific Ocean, after the company's waste pulp contaminated the Cruces River and put Validivia's drinking water at risk.
Morten Szygenda - The Santiago Times