If there were any lingering doubts about the division of the panel world into two principal regions, the results of the 2008 survey must dispel them. The original EU15 countries and North America have settled into the slow lane while the ‘Rest of the world’ is accelerating in the fast lane.

Total world capacity exceeded 90 million m3 during 2007, as predicted in last year’s survey; however, the EU15/North America region saw an actual reduction whereas the rest of the world, including Eastern Europe, grew by over 1.7 million m3 or 6.8%. The EU15/North America share of world capacity was 52.7% in 2005, yet only 48.6% in 2007.
By 2010 the estimate is that it will be below 45%. This is the result of the ‘Rest of the world’ becoming active in new mill building and EU15/North America not adding to capacity at all; 2009 capacity is estimated to be lower than 2005.
Capacity in the ‘Rest of the world’ at the end of 2007 was 27,352,000m3.
Readers will note there are more additions to the mill listings than just the new projects for 2007 reported last year. There are a number of hitherto unrecorded mills, as well as adjustments to 2007/2008 capacities offered by operators on the Intermark/WBPI enquiry forms.
Once again, the editor of WBPI, and the author, extend their sincere gratitude to all those respondents who took time to complete the enquiry form or send comments about new projects, closures or changes of ownership. In turn we apologise to any operators who believe they have been misrepresented (slightly) in the mill listings. There is a tendency in the industry to regard actual production as a mill’s capacity in any given year. This is particularly true when output is increasing and reference to ‘nameplate’ capacity is obviously erroneous. One effect of this on the survey results is to show a higher capacity utilisation – when compared with nameplate.
One further problem for the author is the handling of existing, but previously unrecorded, mills. To report them in the current year will give rise automatically to an apparent growth in capacity volumes and mill numbers. 2007 was such a year, as we were able to incorporate a number of mills with Compak equipment which were in operation before 2007. In the past there were attempts to modify the previous year’s data to avoid indicating unnatural growth in capacity volume and numbers of mills. This has not been undertaken in this year’s survey.
Accordingly, Table 1 shows the number of lines and capacity incorporating unrecorded mills and new mills.
The net effect of including these unrecorded mills (and adjustments to capacity made by existing operators) was to add only 132,000m3 to 2007 capacity. New start-ups on the other hand accounted for 1,630,000m3 and seven new mills.
Combining the results from Part I (WBPI October/November Issue 5), it can be shown there were at least 709 mills operating 795 production lines worldwide at the end of 2007. By the end of 2010 there will be 725 mills operating 811 lines – not really such a major increase in a global context and over three years. Given the current economic conditions, the industry may consider these additions more than adequate.
Table 1 also shows little change in the relative importance of the main sub-regions and countries although Africa has moved above ‘other Asia’ with the two new mills in South Africa.

Although only two new mills are shown for 2007, China retains its position as possessing the most capacity among the regions. Even so, it is one of the few major panel producing countries where MDF capacity exceeds particleboard. The two new mills, Yingang and Tangshan Fortunelin, installed relatively large mills (by Chinese standards) with continuous presses. There was also corporate activity, with the new owners of PTP acquiring Asia Dekor (the original mill name is retained in the listings). Keen readers will also note the new listing of four Compak mills which existed in prior years but were unrecorded.

North East Asia
There was little significant activity during 2007 although there were some small changes to existing lines in Korea. Dongwha remains the major operator in Korea – and possibly the region – as well as a significant MDF operator in South East Asia. The new Japanese mills are not due on stream until 2008.

South East Asia
The major events during the year were the opening of two new lines in Indonesia – PT Kutai Timber and Sumatera Prima Fibreboard. Otherwise the changes shown are the inclusion of previously unrecorded Compak lines in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. Like all Compak lines, capacities are small and they utilise, principally, non-wood raw materials.

Other Asia
One new start-up is recorded – Bajaj Hindustan in Pakistan – but there are also additional Compak lines in Sri Lanka and India. There is little follow-up information as to the success of the new start-ups in Iran.

South America
2007 was strangely quiet regarding new start-ups, other than Novopan in Ecuador. After the surge of a few years ago, the interest in particleboard appeared to wane because of the MDF projects of the main players and a softening in the market. The US housing downturn from quarter three of 2006 may also have affected decision making. However, 2007/2008 will be notable for the significant new project announcements which will be described later but were alluded to in last year’s survey.
In several ways this region mirrors events in Europe and North America. There are a number of corporate activities, but
production capacity remains unchanged for the most part.

The new lines for PG Bison and Sonae have been shown for 2007 even though commercial production for one may not have commenced until early this year. The expansion in capacity provides uplift for the whole continent.

Average line capacity
Tables 2 and 3 show the average line capacities in North America/Europe contrasted with the ‘Rest of the world’. Despite several new larger-scale mills being installed, there has not been a distinct impact on average mill sizes, except in Africa, where the number of mills is relatively small. Canada and Other Europe saw measurable increases in average line capacity with most new lines being large scale (plus 59,000m3 and 18,000m3 per annum respectively). The incidence of ‘capacity creep’ appears to have changed somewhat from a year ago, when it was not in evidence in the ‘Rest of the world’. Returns from North East Asia, South East Asia and South America suggest modifications to achieve 3-4% increases.
Table 4 shows the increase in the number of mills with capacities of 100,000m3 per annum and above. All the seven new installations were of at least 100,000m3 per annum, with four of them either of 200,000 or 300,000m3 per annum.
Equally revealing is the number of lines over 500,000m3 per annum being projected. From 2008 there are nine new mills with over 500,000m3 per annum capacity: three in South America, one in western Europe, three in Turkey and two in Russia. The aggregate of these lines is 5.6 million m3, which is an average of well over 600,000m3 per annum! Once again, given the economic conditions, it can be speculated as to whether any of the projects will be postponed.

Future capacity changes
For 2007, the ‘Rest of the world’ saw a slightly inflated rate of capacity-building over 2006, at 6.8%. Overall, 2008 and 2009 will be rather more muted, at about 2.2% per annum. 2010 will see a return to at least 6% growth. As shown in table 5, the number of new projects (as reported rather than rumoured) is relatively meagre, at nine. The Green River project in Thailand was delayed until early 2008. Both Japanese mills are due, as is a small project in a new country, Ethiopia.
Segamat of Malaysia has acquired PT Novopan, previously reported closed. It is reported Segamat will refurbish and restart the mill in 2008. (No capacity data is available).
The gains made by South Africa will be ameliorated by the closure of two older lines by PG Bison amounting to 213,000m3 a year. Last year it was reported that Eucatex, Brazil, announced the largest project in the ‘Rest of the world’. Soon afterwards, two larger projects were announced, by Masisa and Duratex, both in Brazil, of 750,000m3 and 1,000,000m3 per annum, respectively. If achieved, this would propel Brazil’s national capacity to 5,249,000m3 per annum – fifth largest in the world at today’s levels.
However, as we went to press, Duratex announced it was delaying its project due to the global financial crisis.
These announcements would have lifted South America above South East Asia to account for 7.5% of world capacity.
It would appear that, after 2008, particleboard capacity in Africa, Other Asia and Australasia will become stable. The reality may be quite different, especially in ‘Other Asia’, where India especially may see further projects.
Table 6 summarises the changing world aggregate capacity as well as each principal region/country. There has to be doubt regarding the projection of 100 million m3 capacity by 2009. Even so, growth after 2007 to 2010 will be about 7.8%, or just over seven million m3.
Very specially, Russia, Turkey and Brazil will lead this growth and account for 83% of that predicted so far between 2007 and 2010.
What is revealing is that of the twelve sub-regions/countries, at the time of writing, nine would seem to possess static particleboard capacity from either 2007 or 2008 for at least two further years. ‘Other Europe’ and South America will be the most dynamic. These regions seem to have the best access to raw material (with the obvious exception of Turkey).

Understanding this Survey
It remains our philosophy to publish the information in our possession as it becomes available rather than wait in the hope of a really comprehensive listing.
Therefore, various gaps exist – though fewer than last year – for which we thank contributors from the industry, equipment suppliers, associations and consultants.
Mill capacity is, where possible, reported according to the operators’ own estimates. Where we have no estimate, there could be a reference list with a daily capacity. This has been grossed up by 330 days to provide annual capacity in thousands of cubic metres (m3) per annum. Where information is available for each line, this has been given. In some cases, we have provided details of more than one line per mill but published only total capacity.
The country total capacity is based on the sum of the capacities we have provided. Where there are too many gaps, however, the country total according to other sources has been used.
Capacity changes have been taken either directly from the survey results according to the mills’ own forecasts, or from published announcements of new lines which were available to WBPI.
Once again, we doubt if the future capacity changes are entirely reliable because, firstly, full information regarding modifications to existing lines is not available and, secondly, we might have missed some of the new announcements or closures. We hope to correct the listings with each subsequent survey.