Everything here is big

Interview with Júlio César Rodrigues da Cunha, Fibria’s Director of Engineering and Projects and Joel Starepravo, ANDRITZ Project Director

The second pulp production line at Fibria’s Horizonte mill near Três Lagoas will have a capacity of 1.95 million tonnes per year of bleached eucalyptus pulp. That will bring total production at the site to 3.05 million tonnes per year, making Horizonte one of the largest pulping sites in the world.


"Even though this is the largest equipment in the world, I don’t have any doubts."

Júlio César Rodrigues da Cunha, Director of Engineering and Projects

Total investment in the second line is BRL 7.5 billion (USD 2.3 billion). ANDRITZ is supplying all the process areas (woodyard, fiberline, pulp drying, chemical recovery, and power island) on an EPC basis. We spoke with the Project Directors from both Fibria and ANDRITZ to get a status report on how the project is progressing.

Background for the project

da Cunha: “We have been planning the second line here at Horizonte for years and quite intensely since 2013. Our original calculations put the maximum line size at 1.5 million t/a. We kept wondering, though, if there was something we could do to make the economics more attractive. With some changes here, and an addition there, we arrived at a new conceptual design for a 1.75 million t/a mill.”

ANDRITZ approached us with some new thinking

da Cunha: “When it came ANDRITZ’s turn for commercial negotiations, they asked if we would be interested in some new ideas to get design capacity up to 1.95 million t/a. Of course, they had our complete attention. We talked through the morning about what changes would be necessary and our technical people had intense discussions with their technical team. By the end of the day, we had a solution.”

Starepravo: “In the fiberline, Fibria wanted four of the DD Washers to be as big as possible. The size of our largest existing drums would limit production to 1.75 million t/a. We knew that would be a deal-breaker if we couldn’t come up with a creative solution. Our technical team designed a bigger washer, on paper. But we didn’t have the manufacturing machinery to make that size of a drum. Our people in Finland set the wheels in motion to add a section to the workshop, acquire the larger machinery, and be able to manufacture these larger drums. When we presented our solution, custom-tailored to Fibria, we had a deal.”

No doubts

da Cunha: “Even though this equipment is the largest in the world, I don’t have any doubts. Of course, with any project there are risks. But I can tell you these are all calculated risks. The concepts and designs are proven. We trust ANDRITZ. We have worked together for a long time. The real risk for us is schedule, as we are on a fast-track delivery for all the equipment."


Starepravo: “Fibria signed the contract for purchase in July 2015. Our schedule is to start-up the line in the fourth quarter of 2017. As of now, we are on target, in fact just a little ahead, with the civil work almost complete. Fibria did a great job getting all the roads, sewers, and other infrastructure in place before the civil contractors came on-site. Even during our rainy season, the contractors could work effectively.”

da Cunha: “I have been doing project work for 30 years. This is the first project I have been involved with where we will start the mechanical erection with all the flooring, drainage systems, etc., in place.”

A complete team

da Cunha: “One thing we have chosen to do differently here is to co-locate everyone on our team to the same offices. Not just the people building the mill inside the fence, but also all the related activities from the plantation nursery to shipping and logistics. This is truly a big team effort.”

Lessons learned

Starepravo: “The lessons learned from previous large projects is that the first 100 days are critical to the success of a project. If you don’t get started on the right things at the right speed, you are forever playing catch-up. We are fortunate that the timing of the Klabin Puma Project allowed us to move our teams from one large project directly to another. This keeps the continuity. We are focused on making sure that the engineering is solid, that our subcontractors have the guidance they need to work effectively, and that the manufacturing quality and schedule can be ensured.”

Improved tools and methods

Starepravo: “We recently completed an internal development program involving worldwide project teams to improve capabilities. During that program, we developed better systems and tools to help us manage risk and identify potential problems before they become real issues. We also are using new measurements to understand our true productivity – not just the traditional percent-complete scale. We address areas where we are slipping behind and take corrective actions with our customer before there is a chance to seriously impact our schedule, quality, or safety.


Leaving a legacy

Starepravo: “This is obviously an important project for ANDRITZ, our largest. My dream for this project is that we not only deliver what we have sold and make the customer happy, but also that we leave a positive legacy for Fibria and the country of Brazil.”


“My dream is that we leave a positive legacy for Fibria and the country of Brazil.”

Joel Starepravo, ANDRITZ Project Director



Early years

Born in Araguari, Minas Gerais State; 53 years old


  • Electronic Engineering degree
  • Post Graduate in Pulp & Paper Process Fabrication
  • MBA in Business Management

Work life

  • First job as process control engineer
  • Process engineer for paper mill and consulting engineers
  • Process and Project Engineering management at VCP
  • Project Director at Bahia Pulp
  • Currently Project and Engineering Director at Fibria

Private life

  • Married
  • Hobbies include travel and having fun with family/friends

Most important lesson

  • People are the key to project success
  • Open and shared management, combined with committed and well-prepared professionals in the right positions, will overcome any challenge.


Early years

Born in Curitiba; 46 years old


  • BSc Information Systems
  • MBA International Project Management
  • Post-MBA in Negotiation PMP Certificate

Work life

  • First job as process control su-pervisor at Rigesa (WestRock) paper mill
  • Extensive experience in commissioning and start-ups (Veracel, CMPC, Suzano, Fibria, etc.)
  • Engineering Manager (EIA)
  • Currently Project Director for Horizonte 2

Private life

  • Married
  • Hobbies include biking, running and movies

Most important lesson

  • Commitment and communication are essential to the success of a project, encompassing all levels in a company. The organization as a whole should be aware of the project and be encouraged to participate.