Top Brazilian panel maker Duratex SA has begun the long anticipated phase out of its old established wet process hardboard production.

Duratex announced it halted production in April on three wet process hardboard lines, operating since the 1950s, at its plant in Jundiai, Sao Paulo state.

Meanwhile, Duratex revealed it has put off indefinitely a US$592m expansion plan to install a big, one million m3/year medium density eucalypt particleboard (MDP) line at its Itapetininga site.

Sao Paulo-based Duratex still runs three newer hardboard lines with an overall capacity of 200,000m3/year, at its Botucatu site. Until recently demand for the thin hardboard panels from foreign markets remained strong and the product proved profitable despite the US market slowdown.

But in the past six years, the panel maker has developed and marketed thin MDF, high density fibreboard (HDF) and ‘super density’ fibreboard (SDF) to replace its wet process hardboard.

The Jundiai shutdown coincides with the launch of a huge 800,000m3/year Siempelkamp ContiRoll eucalypt MDF line with a 77m press – said to be the world’s longest continuous MDF press to date – at Duratex’s Agudos plant.