Metsä Fibre, which is part of Metsä Group, has decided to build a new bioproduct mill in Äänekoski in Central Finland. With a value of EUR 1.2 billion, the bioproduct mill is the largest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry. It will create more than 2,500 jobs throughout the value chain in Finland, with 1,500 of them being new jobs.
The Äänekoski mill is the first next-generation bioproduct mill in the world. In addition to high-quality pulp, it will produce a broad range of bioproducts, such as tall oil, turpentine, bioelectricity and wood fuel.
Potential new products created from production side streams include for example textile fibres and lignin products. The mill is designed to allow for a broad, diverse range of products manufactured by a unique bioeconomy ecosystem of companies.
Its annual pulp production capacity is 1.3 million tonnes. The bioproduct mill will begin operations in the third quarter of 2017.
The conditions are favourable for building a bioproduct mill in Finland:
- The demand for softwood pulp is increasing steadily.
- The demand for softwood market pulp was around 24 million tonnes in 2014 and is expected to increase to around 26 million tonnes by 2025. Demand is growing most strongly in Asia, particularly in China.
- The price competitiveness of the mill will be at a good level, as it will be using northern softwood pulp.
The investment supports Metsä Fibre’s growth and improves long-term profitability by making use of the strong softwood pulp market and sustainably harvested felling surplus in Finland.
- The mill is being constructed in the area of the present Metsä Fibre pulp mill in Äänekoski in Central Finland. The new mill will replace part of the existing mill and serve the local forest industry. A total area of around 40 hectares is available for the new mill.
- Its location is ideal in terms of availability of raw materials, and the necessary logistics networks are already in place.
- The bioproduct mill will create a diverse ecosystem of bioeconomy companies that will develop and produce the bioproducts of the future from wood raw materials. This ecosystem will benefit not only the region, but also Finland.
Effects of the investment
- The bioproduct mill is the largest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry. When completed, it is expected to have an annual impact of more than EUR 0.5 billion on Finland’s income.
- The annual increase in the value of exports will be EUR 0.5 billion.
- The bioproduct mill will diversify the structure of the Finnish forest economy and bioeconomy and expand their product selection through high-added-value products.
- The overall effect on employment during the construction phase will be more than 6,000 person-years.
- After the new bioproduct mill is fully operational, its employment effect throughout the value chain in Finland will be 2,500 jobs, including 1,500 new jobs.
- The most significant employment effects are expected to be in the forest industry and transport.
- The bioproduct mill will help Finland achieve its goals in terms of renewable energy. The mill will produce 2.4 times as much energy as it needs.
- The mill will increase the share of renewable energy in Finland by more than two percentage points.
- The project falls within the emission limits of the environmental permit for the present mill.
- When completed, the bioproduct mill will significantly increase the use of wood in Finland as a whole.
- The annual use of pulpwood will increase by around 4 million cubic metres (around 10 per cent) at the national level.
- The sustainable increase potential is 7 million cubic metres of softwood fibre and 4 million cubic metres of birch fibre. The wood will mainly be purchased in Finland.
- Äänekoski’s central location and the broad member base of Metsäliitto Cooperative will ensure a sufficient supply of wood. Pulpwood supply will be supported by Metsä Group’s strong wood product industry, which uses logs as a raw material.
Significance of the bioproduct mill
Totalling EUR 1.2 billion, the investment in Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill is the largest in the history of the Finnish forest industry. Production at the mill is designed to be resource efficient. Annual pulp production in Äänekoski, which currently totals around 0.5 million tonnes, will increase to 1.3 million tonnes. The annual economic impact on Finland is estimated to be EUR 0.5 billion. The bioproduct mill will diversify the structure of the Finnish forest economy and bioeconomy and expand their product selection through high-added-value products.
The two most recent pulp mills in Finland were completed in Rauma in 1996 and in Joutseno in 2001.
Totalling EUR 1.2 billion, the investment in Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill is the largest in the history of the Finnish forest industry.
The world’s first next-generation bioproduct mill concept allows for the integrated manufacture of new bioproducts, the resource-efficient use of side streams from the industrial process, and the creation of a new type of bioeconomy ecosystem. Despite the increase in pulp production, the mill will be able to operate within the emission limits of the current environmental permit. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) process has been used to assess and minimise the environmental effects of the project. The Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland has granted an environmental permit and a water intake permit for the bioproduct mill. These permits enable the mill to begin operating.
The following environmental aspects were considered as early as the planning phase:
The mill will use 4.5 million cubic metres of softwood and 2 million cubic metres of birch per year. It will increase the annual consumption of pulpwood in Finland by around 4 million cubic metres (around 10 per cent). Most of the increase will consist of softwood pulpwood. The pulpwood will mainly be purchased in Finland.
The annual felling of softwood pulpwood can be increased sustainably by 7 million cubic metres in Finland, and that of birch pulpwood can be increased by 4 million cubic metres.
Sustainably managed forests serve as carbon sinks that help to mitigate climate change. The intention is to purchase most of the wood used by the mill in Finland. Ninety per cent of the wood used will be certified wood.
Pulp bleaching at the bioproduct factory will be based on ECF technology, a modern technology involving oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and chlorine dioxide as the bleaching chemicals. In a modern bioproduct mill, ECF bleaching based on chlorine dioxide can be made as water efficient as TCF bleaching, which involves no chlorine chemicals. Modern ECF and TCF bleaching methods do not differ from one another in terms of environmental effects.
Sodium sulphate is a neutral salt used in detergents, for example. The modern pulp mill will have a closed chemical cycle, meaning that its environmental emissions will be low. In a closed chemical cycle, the sodium and sulphuric chemicals used in various process phases increase the amount of chemicals that are recycled. The increase in sulphuric chemicals has traditionally been neutralised by removing sodium sulphate (Na2SO4) from the chemical cycle by dissolving it in wastewater in accordance with the environmental permit. This increases sodium and sulphur levels in the receiving waterway. Any environmental effects are dependent on the receiving waterway. The effects are small in a strongly flowing body of water, such as Lake Kuhnamo. The need to remove sodium sulphate can be affected through the selection of mill processes and process chemicals. The goal is to eliminate the need to dissolve sodium sulphate in wastewater during the normal operation of the modern bioproduct mill.
Natura 2000 area
The lake region of Vatianjärvi and Saraavesi is a protected Natura 2000 area in the lower reaches of the Äänekoski mill area. The protected area consists of several parts. Closest to the mill area, the Lujiankoski and Kapeenkoski rapids are around eight kilometres from the discharge point for treated wastewater. The starting points for the planning of the bioproduct mill include ensuring that its environmental load will not exceed the limit values of the environmental permit, which was granted to the present pulp mill in 2006. In other words, the mill will not affect the state of the natural waterways in the Natura 2000 area located around eight kilometres from the mill.
Effects on flora and soil
The new bioproduct mill will be located in the present industrial lot. The new mill will improve air quality. This means that it will not have any detrimental effects on the flora or soil inside or outside the mill area. Its effects on the flora and soil were evaluated as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Increased water usage
The pulp production capacity of the new bioproduct mill will be more than double that of the present pulp mill. The goal is for the new mill to have closed water cycles and an effective wastewater treatment process, and its total process water usage and effluent flow are intended to be at around the same level as those of the present pulp mill. The wastewater generated by the mill is not expected to have an effect on water system classifications or the use of local natural water systems.
The bioproduct mill requires a larger volume of cooling water than that of the present Äänekoski integrated mill. At its highest, the total use of raw water in summer conditions will more than double, exceeding 7,000 litres per second. However, most of the water will be returned clean to the natural waterway, and the temperature of the waterway will increase by a few degrees in the discharge area.
Effect of temperatures on the natural waterway
The thermal load from the new bioproduct mill will be several times that of the present pulp mill, and the need for cooling water will increase in relation to production. Normally, the thermal load is channelled into the natural waterway. At the bioproduct mill, however, the goal is to reduce waste heat by making use of the thermal load in the manufacturing processes of other bioproducts. Nevertheless, the thermal load channelled into Lake Kuhnamo will increase compared to its present level. The increase in the temperature of cooling water may delay the freezing of the lake or cause it to thaw earlier than usual.
The effects of the thermal load on Lake Kuhnamo and the rest of the natural waterway downstream of the bioproduct mill were modelled as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
The bioproduct mill is intended to deliver industrial symbioses to create an ecosystem that makes use of waste from the manufacture of the main products. The goal is for the bioproduct mill not to generate a significant amount of landfill waste. Achieving this goal will take several years after the first phase of the project – the new pulp mill – has been inaugurated.
The goal is for the bioproduct mill not to generate a significant amount of landfill waste.
In all respects, the emissions generated by the new bioproduct mill are lower than the limit values determined by the proposed EU directive on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plants. The equipment and processes used at the mill represent the best available technologies (BAT). Even though the capacity of the new bioproduct mill is more than double that of the present pulp mill, it will have a positive effect on the quality of air in Äänekoski, particularly in terms of odorous compounds. The spread of the emissions generated by the mill was modelled as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
The capacity of the bioproduct mill is intended to be nearly triple that of the present pulp mill. The traffic bringing wood and chemicals to the mill, as well as that taking the final products from the mill, will grow correspondingly. Raw wood will be transported from the forest to the mill by lorries and trains. A total of 240 log lorries and 70 flat wagons will be arriving at the mill each day, and 40 wagons of pulp will be transported to the Vuosaari Harbour. The increase in traffic will generate more noise along the points of entry into the town. The increase in noise levels was modelled as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA). The increase in traffic will also increase the safety risk posed by traffic.
Metsä Fibre cooperates with the road authorities and the local authorities to improve road safety.
The amount of noise generated by the mill can be affected by placing the noisiest sections in a manner that enables their noise to subside before the border of the mill area. In addition, limit values will be set for noise when acquiring equipment for the mill.
The increasing traffic will generate the most noise, including near residential areas. The noise generated by the mill and by the traffic were modelled as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
- Its overall effect on employment during the construction phase will be more than 6,000 person-years.
- After the new bioproduct mill is fully operational, its employment effect throughout the value chain in Finland will be 2,500 jobs.
- A total of 1,500 new jobs will be created in the value chain.
- The employment effects will be most significant in the forest industry and transportation.
- New opportunities will be created for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.
The bioproduct mill will have a significant effect on employment.
The bioproduct mill is a practical implementation of the targets of the Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy. The goal of the bioeconomy is a low-carbon, energy-efficient society based on the use of renewable natural resources and recyclable materials. Finland intends to lead the way in the bioeconomy while also enhancing its competitiveness and economic development, as well as the employment and well-being of its people.
The bioproduct mill concept allows for the integrated manufacture of new bioproducts, the resource-efficient use of the side streams of the industrial process, and the creation of a new type of bioeconomy ecosystem. The bioproduct mill will help Finland achieve its renewable energy goals.
The mill will increase the share of renewable energy in Finland by around two percentage points. The bioproduct mill will have an electricity self-sufficiency rate of 240 per cent.
Its business model is based on an efficient partner network in which new products are upgraded in cooperation with various players.
Around 50 per cent of the wood raw material used in pulp mills becomes pulp. At the bioproduct mill, 100 per cent of the wood raw material and side streams will be used for products and bioenergy. Its business model is based on an efficient partner network in which new products are upgraded in cooperation with various players.
The global demand for softwood pulp is increasing steadily and will increase by around 2 million tonnes by 2025. Demand is growing most rapidly in Asia, particularly in China.
Metsä Fibre is one of the largest producers of softwood pulp in the world
Metsä Fibre is one of the largest producers of softwood pulp in the world. The project improves its long-term profitability by making use of the strong softwood pulp market and sustainably harvested felling surplus in Finland.
The goal is to strengthen the position of Metsä Fibre as the leading supplier of softwood pulp. The project will increase the annual value of exports from Finland by around EUR 0.5 billion.