The public event held by Metsä Group on the overhaul of the Kemi pulp mill gathered some 90 interested people to Kemi cultural centre on a summery evening on 25 June . CEO Ismo Nousiainen opened the event by telling the audience that Metsä Fibre is the world’s leading producer of bleached softwood market pulp. The company is also Finland’s largest with regard to the production of sawn timber.
“Our strategy is based on keeping our production units in good shape. We modernise them with correctly timed investments which improve production efficiency, product quality and environmental performance.”
This is precisely what the investment in Metsä Fibre’s oldest mill, the Kemi pulp mill, is about.
“We have to make a decision on how to renew the Kemi pulp mill. What I can promise you is that we will continue our operations here,” said Nousiainen.
Building an entirely new bioproduct mill or modernise the current pulp mill
The options available at Kemi number exactly two: Building an entirely new bioproduct mill with clearly higher production volumes and wood consumption. This would bring more than five hundred new jobs to harvesting and transport. The other option would be to modernise the current pulp mill. This would keep production volumes and the employment effect unchanged.
The prefeasibility study will be finished by the summer of 2019. According to Timo Merikallio, the head of the project, the most important thing in building the new mill is an investigation of the wood supply and logistics – in other words, the transportation of the wood and products to global markets.
“If the capabilities for that cannot be found, we’ll go for option two.”
The audience played an active role in the discussion. Tuire Kourula, who hails from Kemi, asked whether the forests have enough wood for the first option. According to Juha Mäntylä, Executive Vice President, Metsä Group, the new bioproduct mill would impact wood flows in the entire Baltic Sea area. In Finland, pulpwood felling can be increased sustainably, in the first phase, by six million cubic metres a year and, starting from 2025, by nine million cubic metres a year. The new bioproduct mill at Äänekoski will be using part of this felling potential.
Mäntylä estimates that the felling potential will increase by another two or three million cubic metres once the new national forest inventory figures will be published. The new Kemi bioproduct mill would use 6.7 million cubic metres of wood: 3.6 million cubic metres more than the current mill – and approximately the same volume as the new mill at Äänekoski consumes. Mäntylä added that the good news is that the potential for pulpwood is found particularly in northern Finland.
At the end of the event, Ismo Nousiainen revealed that the new bioproduct mill project goes by the name of Polar King. The name was suggested by the company’s personnel in Kemi mills.
“We already have a queen, the Polar Queen, in Kemi – our paperboard machine. Now our plan is to introduce a new royal/polar match: the Polar Queen and the Polar King!”