Keryas Paper Industry LLC, Oman, is only an infant if its 2021 establishment is considered, however, its achievements and investments tell a whole other story. The mill not only exceeds its 100 percent production capacity within a year of becoming operational, but it is also already looking forward to solidifying its dominant position in the GCC paper industry. In a conversation with Paper Mart, Mr. Rajasekar Veerichetty, Vice President, who is having 32 years of experience in the paper industry and having 6+ yrs at C Level leadership, elaborated on various product diversification, market diversification, and technological upgrade plans of the company. One of these plans is a new paper mill in UAE for which the company has already announced an investment of USD 40 million, and which might become operational in 2024.
Paper Mart: Please introduce us to Keryas Paper and its major milestones.
Rajasekar Veerichetty: Keryas Paper Industry is a part of the Keryas Group of Industries which is headed by the Al Hosni family. Mr. Al Hosni is our Chairman, his elder son, Mr. Mohammed Al Hosni, is our CEO, and his younger son, Mr. Abdullah Al Hosni, is our MD. The group in itself has a diversified presence, such as Keryas Steel, with an in-house fabrication team, a school, and a chain of supermarkets, Al Karama, in Oman. Our paper mill is the first and the largest paper mill in Oman and is a 100 percent recycled fiber-based mill. It became operational in July 2021, and in 2022, that is within a year, we achieved over 100 percent efficiency by producing 100,000 tonnes of paper. At Keryas Paper, we are determined to plan and implement projects for continuous growth and upgrading, and as a result, we have already achieved FSE’s ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Our efforts have resulted in varying achievements within a short period of being operational, for instance, in 2021-22 we won Best Sustainable Award, in Dubai, and in October 2022 we won the Runner-up award in the Waste & Recycling Award category.
“Our paper mill is the first and the largest paper mill in Oman and is a 100 percent recycled fiber-based mill. It became operational in July 2021, and in 2022, that is within a year, we achieved over 100 percent efficiency by producing 100,000 tonnes of paper.”
PM: Please elaborate on your product line and the markets served.
RV: We manufacture test liner paper, fluting medium paper, core board paper, and absorbent kraft paper. The machine can produce 110-200 gsm papers with a BF range of 22-26, our high-performance fluting medium paper, for the medium layer of carton boxes, ranges from 80-200 gsm, high-performance test liner paper, for covering layer of carton boxes, ranges 80-175 gsm, and core board for paper tubes ranges 200-450 gsm.
Our base market is Oman, as about 60 percent of our products sell here, however, we have a global presence as we export to many countries, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Malta.
PM: Can you share your paper mill’s manufacturing process and capacities?
RV: We have recently acquired a high-performance fluting test liner manufacturing line from China, and it takes care of the whole paper-making process, starting from pulp making. The machine is equipped with a 4.6-width mesh wire, resulting in a 4.5-width finished product. Its operational speed is 550 mpm and its production capacity is 450 metric TPD. The machine is one of a kind in the whole GCC region. Although our mill already is among the least consumers of water, at 2.5 cubic meters per ton of paper, among all GCC paper mills, we wish to bring it down more.
PM: How do you source raw materials for your mill?
RV: We source 60 percent of our papermaking raw material, waste paper, from Oman, and the rest 40 percent through imports, majorly from GCC member countries, and about 10 percent from Europe and the Middle East countries. We initially purchased waste, but recently our sister concern, Keryas Waste Management, is supplying us with our raw materials. The lack of proper segregation and collection habits was a major reason behind starting Keryas Waste Management. We employ over 150 people as our own collection teams, and do the segregation and bailing in our own warehouse. We educate the general public on how to collect waste and segregate it properly through slogans, brochures, and various campaigns, and since we are turning waste into wealth, people are also supportive as now they get money for proper waste management. We have our own collection basket in all the malls of Oman and we are concerned with educating and collecting. People are supportive as well as they also benefit by making money.
“Last October, we announced a USD 40 million investment for a new mill project in UAE, and we will be targeting to produce low gsm, 60-90, and high BF paper to cater to different types of markets. We plan to cater to carton boxes to paper bags and other markets, which GCC presently imports. The production capacity for the new mill is being aimed at 500-600 TPD”
PM: Please shed light on your approach towards sustainability.
RV: Mr. Abdullah Al Hosni, our MD, has put forward the idea of reusing waste paper that otherwise goes into landfill and our consequent efforts have resulted in better waste management, saving forest resources, and reducing our carbon footprint. We are also investing in the circular economy by reducing water usage.
Our entrepreneurs are young, within the 30-38 years age group, and all our projects are focused on taking care of the environment, sustainability, and aiming to become zero discharge plants.
We have over 200 people, from diverse backgrounds, such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc., employed, and plan to recruit more from Sri Lanka and Nepal in the future. Since in the first year only we achieved 100 percent of our production capacity, we are looking forward to expanding our wings and diversifying all across GCC.
PM: What are Keryas Paper’s future plans?
RV: From 2022 onwards we have been on a constant lookout for better and latest technologies to improve product quality and expand our production capacity. Our detailed plans include the installation of new state-of-the-art technology for a dryer screen online cleaning system, supplied by ProJet the Netherlands, a new auto spool change system, supplied by Sander USA, which shall be implemented by 2023, incorporation of 1 MW TG, which is in final stages of commissioning and will be started by the end of February 2023. We want to increase our production capacity by 20 percent. In the upcoming period, we are going to upgrade our ETP plant with new DAF aeration, and install an anaerobic reactor to reduce effluent load and save water, a precious resource in the Gulf region. Additionally, we will install a new RO plant supplied by Thermax, a new auto-control dilution headbox. We also have other projects planned for environment and product diversification, for instance, a new coating plant and other diversification projects across Oman and GCC region.
Last October, we announced a USD 40 million investment for a new mill project in UAE, and we will be targeting to produce low gsm, 60-90, and high BF paper to cater to different types of markets. We plan to cater to carton boxes to paper bags and other markets, which GCC presently imports. The production capacity for the new mill is being aimed at 500-600 TPD, and accordingly, the deckle shall be finalized. We are currently in the process of finalizing the location, once we finish land selection we could continue with further phases of the project and complete setting up the mill by 2024.
We are planning to expand in other areas as well, such as plastic recycling.