UPMPaso de los Toros
  • Pulp
  • Local talent is key in the construction of UPM’s new pulp mill in Uruguay
Story | 05/14/2020 07:45:01

Local talent is key in the construction of UPM’s new pulp mill in Uruguay

In July 2019, UPM confirmed the largest investment in Uruguay’s history. The UPM Paso de los Toros pulp mill is underway and with the start of the works on the mill site and the associated construction projects, opportunities for local businesses and workers arise. The project, as a factor in promoting local development, already has a first direct impact: today young isabelinos – as those who were born in Paso de los Toros are called – can dream of staying to work in the city where they were born.

The company Volfer Ingeniería (CIGROL S.A.), located in the surroundings of the Charrúa neighborhood is an isabelina company – almost iconic in the city. Under the direction of the Romano family, the company has built a long track record in the metal industry, offering a wide range of products.

The company was awarded the construction of some housing modules that will make up the temporary housing for workers who arrive in the city during the construction phase of the pulp mill.

To meet the challenge of building more than 300 housing modules, reaching the required quality levels and considering the necessary safety measures, Volfer Ingeniería set up a new production line in its plant, specifically for the assembly of the modules.

These modules will be installed in Paso de los Toros, Centenario, Carlos Reyles and Durazno, and will house up to 5,500 workers during the construction period of the plant. All these modules will have drinking water, connection to sewage system and electricity.

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Rodrigo Bentancor is 23 years old and has been working in the company for five years. He had the opportunity to grow, learn and specialize within the company, and today he is primarily responsible for the new assembly line of the modules. Rodrigo is aware of the responsibility assigned to him and feels that there is a great opportunity ahead of him and other young people as well.

“I grew up in Paso de los Toros and all my life young people like me had to go to work elsewhere because the sources of employment were always scarce. Today, with the arrival of the mill project, that has changed”, he said.

The construction of the pulp mill, together with the rest of the associated works, implies a long and gradual process. The selection of new suppliers and the emergence of new opportunities is included in the joint planning that the state of Uruguay and UPM have developed since the beginning of the process.

“It is a slightly different challenge from what we had always been doing. There are many companies that will surely learn and grow a lot during this period, thanks to jobs that we would never have done if the plant had not come,” Bentancor added.

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Local suppliers’ development of the necessary capacities to meet the demands of this kind of a project is one of the key dimensions for the real integration of the project in the community.

Similarly, education and training of people is another key factor to take advantage of the opportunities that may arise.

Gloria Cardoso, 33, joined Volfer as a metalworker in February. “I am the first female operator who joins the company. This is important not only because it gives employment to young and skilled people, but also because it creates opportunities for other people who earlier did not have them. UPM is opening a door to many work opportunities because it is not only the plant but also construction of the infrastructure.”

Through regular meetings in Paso de los Toros, UPM has informed the community on the way in which the progress of the processes was planned, on the works, on how personnel recruitment processes would be implemented, on training opportunities and the gradualness with which the offer of jobs in the area would be increased.

Leonardo Gaitán, 30, is another example of the importance of training as a tool to seize opportunities. He is a graduate of UTU (Universidad del Trabajo del Uruguay), and began to work for Volfer Ingeniería three months ago.

“The town was very quiet and laid back due to the lack of jobs and many people were leaving town because there were no job opportunities. For example, I was jobless when three months ago I had the opportunity to start working here. Luckily I can stay and work in my city”, says Leonardo.

Over the last 30 years, there have been many companies like Volfer Ingeniería that UPM trusts and relies on. The work needed for the construction of the new pulp mill is no exception and for that reason it is necessary to have adequately trained personnel and encourage local suppliers to develop the necessary capacities to meet the demanding standards.

Construction of the UPM Paso de los Toros pulp mill proceeds and is starting to create large positive impacts as well as expectations. "Anyone who wants to continue living and working in Paso de los Toros will now be able to stay”, says Gloria Cardoso.