The Polar King project is
progressing on schedule
If all the criteria are met, an entirely new bioproduct mill will start up in Kemi in 2022. The prefeasibility study phase has delivered promising results so far.
The auditorium in the cultural centre of Kemi was packed to the rafters for the public event of Metsä Group's Polar King project on Tuesday, 18 December 2018, when about two hundred persons interested in the project arrived to hear more about it. The evening included a review of the situation in terms of the prefeasibility study, presented by Metsä Group's project group.
"Metsä Group is in the middle of some major investment projects and Kemi's new bioproduct mill or, alternatively, the modernisation of the current mill is also part of these projects," said Ismo Nousiainen, CEO of Metsä Fibre.
Right now, the focus is on, among other things, logistics, the land use planning of the mill area and the adequacy of wood. The work is being carried out in cooperation with authorities and other cooperation partners.
"The prefeasibility study will be completed by next summer. So far, we haven't come across any factors which would prevent the start of the new bioproduct mill's preliminary planning in 2019," said the clearly satisfied Timo Merikallio, Project Director.
Among other things, the audience was interested in the possible new mill's impact on waterways, the future condition of the Bothnian Bay and key indicators regarding logistics. "We'll be able to give more precise figures once the project enters the preliminary planning phase, regardless of whether we'll settle on an entirely new mill or the modernisation of the existing mill," said Timo Merikallio, Project Director.
Focus on wood supply and logistics
The need for wood would double due to the new bioproduct mill.
"The potential of pulpwood lies in the north, and here it can also get on the road fast when necessary. Log wood also needs to be put to use which, on the other hand, improves the conditions for sawmill operations in the area," said Juha Mäntylä, COO of Metsäliitto Cooperative.
Jari Voutilainen, SVP, Corporate Affairs at Metsä Group, shed light on the logistics needs. The road, street and rail capacity must be in order. The warehouse capacity of the Ajos harbour must be developed and the depth of the sea lane is insufficient for the larger vessels required for the volumes of the possible bioproduct mill.
"The starting point is a reliable and cost-effective production chain from forest to mill and from mill to customers."
Full support for Polar King from the City of Kemi
Tero Nissinen, Mayor of Kemi, which will be celebrating its 150-year anniversary next year, thanked Metsä Group for increasing the area's vitality. He also found many things in common with the city's strategy.
"The bioproduct mill is in line with our project for a green and sustainable Kemi. In addition, it would generate significant side streams and positive opportunities for our city."
Teija Jestilä, Chair of Kemi's City Council, agreed with Nissinen.
"The land use planning, for example, will require a lot of work, but we're willing to do all that to develop and empower the entire area of Sea Lapland at the same time."
Investments create faith in the future
The public was most interested in the environmental issues related to the possible bigger mill, although attitudes toward the project were highly positive.
The questions presented by the public related to the impact that the possible new bioproduct mill would have on the waterways and to the sufficiency of the wood supply. The impact on waterways forms an integral part of the possible environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the possibilities for a sustainable wood supply are already under scrutiny.
"Environmental issues are the starting point for everything. We work according to the principle that the environmental impact will not increase as the production capacity grows," said Merikallio.
Kemi residents Senja and Jari-Tuomas Raappana are happy about the major investment in Sea Lapland's future.
"This will increase faith in the future on a number of different fronts," they summarise the attitude toward the Polar King project.
The next public event, the third of its kind, will be organised in about six months' time.
In line with the majority, Jari-Tuomas and Senja Raappana support the preferred option: new bioproduct mill. They mentioned that it is great to see that Kemi is not a totally overlooked area.
Greetings brought from the Lapland University of Applied Sciences praised the Polar King project for increasing the area's attractiveness in the eyes of young people, too.