Media, Network, Lifestyle Related Goods & Services - Business Overview
This small seedling will grow into a large 25 meter tree in 10 years.
People often praise Chile for its 3 W's—Wine (delicious wine), Weather (diverse and varied weather) and Woman (beautiful woman). However, people in the forest industry often talk about another W—Wood (rich wood resources). Sumitomo Corporation has deepened its relationship with Chile in the field of "Wood" since the 1980's.
As part of its wood business in Chile, Sumitomo Corporation has implemented both eucalyptus plantation and chip manufacturing businesses.
Volterra's plantation lies near Concepcion, a city located in the middle of the narrow land of Chile.
The eucalyptus plantation, consisting of approx. 13,000 hectares, lies about 650 km South of the capital, Santiago. Eucalyptus globulus trees are planted in an enormous swath of land more than twice the size of the area inside the Yamanote Line. The trees grow very fast, so they can be harvested in about 10 years. When they are sufficiently mature, they are cut down, processed at a factory into chips for papermaking, and exported to Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd., a Japanese paper manufacturer.
In 1991, Sumitomo Corporation, Nippon Paper Industries (then Sanyo-Kokusaku Pulp Co., Ltd.) and a local company jointly established Volterra S.A., and began the plantation the following year. They waited until 2002 for the eucalyptus trees to mature and then began harvesting and chip manufacturing. The products were exported to Japan for the first time in 2003. Now, 20 years after the launch of the project, the business is going well, with an annual production volume of about 600 thousand tons (including water contained in the wood).
As is reflected in the company name, Volterra, which is an abbreviation for the Spanish phrase "Volver a la tierra," or "return to the earth," this project represents an activity that is rooted in the earth. Over the first 10 years, we plant eucalyptus seedlings yearly in certain areas of the land. Then, we must wait 10 years before we can harvest the eucalyptus trees planted in the first year. We then cultivate buds that re-grow from the stump or plant new seedlings. Thus, this project is a sustainable activity that is rooted in the earth itself.
Carlos Costa, chairman of Volterra and president of Sumitomo Corporation (Chile) Limitada, giving a speech at a ceremony to celebrate Volterra's 20th anniversary.
Harvested eucalyptus trees are carried from the mountain to the factory and processed into chips for papermaking materials. The processing work is carried out by local residents, including indigenous inhabitants and therefore these activities significantly contribute to the regional economy.
The project deals with products originating from the natural environment, so various risks may arise, such as the unexpected death or poor growth of young trees, the presence of wildfires, and other unpredictable events. We have grown these eucalyptus trees with extreme care in order to avoid such risks to the extent possible. When our "hard-to-raise sons"—eucalyptus trees—finally grew up, were converted into fine chips and shipped for the first time, a ceremony was held which was attended by past and present Volterra presidents, who observed the first shipment.
With the rapid increase in demand for paper in China and other emerging countries, it is ever-more likely that chips for papermaking materials will become scarce. Therefore, this project is also important to ensure a stable supply of papermaking materials in Japan.
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