Ground breaking is slated for Thursday morning for one the largest industrial project ever conceived in the Richmond area – a $2 billion pulp mill on the James River several miles south of downtown.
The Tranlin, Inc., project, owned by China’s Shandong Tranlin, will employ 2,000 workers by 2020, making it one of the area’s largest employers. It is believed to be the largest single industrial investment China has yet made in the U.S.
The plant is unusual in that it is designed to be anything like the traditional pulp mill that has long polluted the water and air in this country.
The Tranlin plant will use neither trees nor bleach. It won’t cause vast areas of clear cut forests. Since there’s no bleach it won’t pour dioxin, one of the most toxic manmade chemicals known, into the James.
For raw materials, the plant will use leftover farm field waste vegetation, such as corn and wheat stalks. Much of it will come from farms in the Northern and Middle Necks and the Peninsula.
One byproduct will be “black liquor” that is derived from the farm waste and can be used as highly concentrated fertilizer for use on the same farms where the stalk came from.
The plant won’t produce traditional cardboard or newsprint. Instead, it will produce higher-quality, dark-colored paper products that can be used in food packaging or as kitchen plants.
Attendees tomorrow will include Li Hongfa, president of Shandon Tranlin Paper Co., Jerry Peng, chairman and CEO of Tranlin, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Chesterfield County Administrator Jay Stegmaier and other officials.
Tranlin is the second large Chinese investment in Virginia. In 2013, China’s Shuanhghui International took over pork producer Smithfield Foods, one of the state’s oldest companies.