Leading South American panel manufacturer Masisa is preparing to capitalise on the early success of its first Brazilian medium density particleboard (MDP) plant.

Masisa do Brasil, part of the Chilean-owned group, has launched stage two of development of its Montenegro MDP project with panel capacity ramping up from 550,000m3/year today to the Dieffenbacher line’s full 750,000m3/year capacity by 2014.

Masisa is investing in a US$5m line upgrade with process modifications and new equipment. The line, based on a refurbished used 43m-long Dieffenbacher press, formerly part of a strawboard line in Canada, was launched in May 2009.

Montenegro can already produce board at its nominal capacity, but not yet with 100% wood chips. So, the firm is replacing two original Allgaier screens designed for straw with new wet chip screening machinery, adding a fifth dry material screen to boost efficiency and a second horizontal cooling wheel, according to Masisa do Brasil operations chief Pablo Rossler.

There is also minor investment in panel handling and cut-to-size sections. “Our goal is to be prepared to run premium quality [board] at full speed at competitive cost in the short term,Rossler told WBPI in April.

Engineering for the expansion will be handled inhouse, and construction should begin in a few months.

Meanwhile, Masisa group, with board mills across Latin America, has unveiled a US$100m 2011 plan to boost its forestry and industrial operations region-wide. Half the spend will go to growing its forest capacity and half to plant productivity schemes, said ceo Roberto Salas.

One important project is the launch of Masisa’s new 280,000m3/year MDP line at Cabrero, Chile in third quarter 2011.