Paper makers thrive amid forest fires and floods

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Sappi and Mondi's June quarter results indicate improving fortunes for paper makers despite forest fires in South Africa and floods in the US.

Sappi yesterday reported a return to profit while Mondi last week posted a 46percent rise in interim operating profits in its maiden results following its demerger from Anglo American.

Sappi's results statement said: "During the quarter, plantation fires exacerbated by severe weather conditions destroyed large tracts of timber land in South Africa and approximately 5000 hectares of timber in our southern African plantations.

"We recorded an after insurance charge of $7million (R49,76million) before tax for this damage during the quarter. A charge of $2million (R14,22million) before tax was taken for damage caused by flooding at Westbrook Mill, USA."

Mondi group's spokeswoman Louise Brugman said the effects of the fires had been minimal and had only affected 5percent of its plantations.

Brugman said only between 10000 and 13000 hectares of Mondi's 269000 hectares were estimated to have been affected.

"We have not ascertained the cost results yet, as we don't write off the entire plantation. If most of the trees affected were older the pulp could still be used and the impact would be minimal compared to younger trees."