The event, held in the old market square, provided information on the ongoing project planning phase, the recently begun environmental impact assessment (EIA) process and wood supply, among other things. The participants, who numbered roughly 750, hailed mainly from Kemi and the neighbouring towns and municipalities, such as Simo and Oulu.
Metsä Fibre’s CEO Ismo Nousiainen said that it was important to create the conditions for an investment decision, which would be made in the summer of 2020 at the earliest. If implemented, the Kemi bioproduct mill would be Europe’s biggest forest industry investment, worth approximately EUR 1.5 billion. The annual pulp production in Kemi would increase from the current 0.6 million tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes.
“Right now, we’re focused on investigating the project’s feasibility, most importantly in terms of the wood supply, so that we can ensure a sufficient amount of raw material throughout the investment’s life-cycle. We’re also studying issues related to logistics and infrastructure – the draught of the Port of Ajos, for instance, is a crucial detail,” said Nousiainen.
“We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us. We’re driving the project forward in good cooperation with various parties and creating the best possible conditions for its next phases, which consist of the investment decision and the mill’s construction.”
Project Director Jari-Pekka Johansson of Metsä Fibre talked about the content of the project planning, for example, and the EIA, which has just got underway. He clarified the reasons for the project being promoted right now.
“The demand for softwood is growing on a global scale, and we want to respond to it. There is demand for sustainably produced pulp. The time is also right in the sense that the life cycle of the existing mill in Kemi is coming to an end.”
The Project Director also said that the EIA programme was filed with the relevant authority – i.e. the Lapland Centre for Economic Development – on 8 May 2019. The public event for the EIA programme will be held on 22 May 2019 at 5:30 p.m. at Digipolis, Kemi.
According to Johansson, the new mill could start up in the first half of the 2020s.
“The mill’s construction requires roughly 10,000 person-years, and we’d be happy to offer local companies and residents the chance to participate in the project in various tasks involving earthworks, for example, or the production of services.”
The Äänekoski mill serves as a reference for the Kemi mill.
“The degree of Finnish origin of the Äänekoski project was high – around 70 per cent. The expectations in terms of the Kemi mill are similar,” said Johansson.
In addition to the project’s impact on aspects such as employment, the audience was interested in the adequacy of the wood supply. The sustainable wood supply issue was addressed by Juha Mäntylä, Executive Vice President of Metsäliitto Cooperative.
“We will have enough wood, although pulpwood may be in fairly short supply at some point compared to the sustainable felling potential. We can also maintain carbon balance and the biodiversity of forests – as long as we’re clever and do the right things at the right time,” said Mäntylä.
Kemi’s Mayor Tero Nissinen acknowledged that the planned bioproduct mill would be important for the Kemi area.
“The project itself represents a massive contribution to the environment, and it serves as a catalyst for the entire area and northern Finland.”
The Mayor also remarked that never during its 150-year history has Kemi been discussed in the national media as much as since 26 April 2019, when Metsä Group announced the commencement of the new mill’s project planning.
The public event for the project planning phase of the Kemi bioproduct mill attracted some 750 people interested in the topic to Kemi’s market square on Saturday. The discussions focused among other things on the adequacy of the wood supply and the impact of the possible mill during its construction and production phase alike. The new mill received a warm welcome!
Teemu Hyvärinen, who works for Metsä Board, brought his son Viktor to the event. The two-year-old’s attention was grabbed by the timber truck brought on site.
Metsä Forest’s Mauri Tervo and Tuomas Hookana discussed wood supply with Rauno Vanhatalo, a member of the event’s audience. “I got some good answers,” said Vanhatalo.
With their three-decade careers at the Kemi mills, Esko Alajakku and Juha-Pekka Juopperi are seasoned mill employees. Both are looking forward to the project's realisation, believing that it will also give a revitalising boost to Kemi as a city.