Bioproduct mill pointing the way towards a carbon-neutral society

Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski is the largest forest industry investment ever made in Europe. Worth EUR 1.2 billion, the project is based on the increased global demand for softwood pulp.

“Every one of us uses pulp-based products 15 to 20 times a day. The demand for these products is strongly growing globally, in emerging economies, such as China, in particular,” explained Ilkka Hämälä, CEO of Metsä Fibre, at the national media event held at the bioproduct mill on 7 March 2017.

The demand for pulp-based products is strongly growing globally.

The annual production of the bioproduct mill that will commence its operations in the third quarter this year will amount to 1.3 million tonnes of pulp. The production of renewable energy will also play a crucial role.

“Once the mill starts up, Metsä Fibre’s sales will increase from EUR 1.6 billion to more than two billion. The employment effects of the mill’s production stage will be in total more than 61,000 person-years.”

Ilkka Hämälä, CEO of Metsä Fibre, explained the impact of the investment on Finland’s national economy, among other things, at the national media event held at Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski. All in all, Metsä Group will invest around two billion euros in Finland during 2015–2017. Photos: Metsä Group

Towards a carbon-neutral society

The industrial ecosystem of Äänekoski will develop further with the start-up of the bioproduct mill. Subsequently, the ecosystem will also enable 100 per cent utilisation of raw materials and side streams of pulp production.

“Finnish sustainably managed forests serve as a carbon sink. The entire concept of the bioproduct mill has been planned to support the development towards a carbon-neutral society,” says Niklas von Weymarn, VP of Research at Metsä Fibre.

The carbon cycle can also be influenced by producing alternative materials that have a good substitution benefit compared to similar fossil-based product. Examples include paperboard including the high degree of recycling, and wood-based construction.

Finnish sustainably managed forests serve as a carbon sink.

“Another fine example is wood-based textile fibre, which we are already producing on a pilot plant scale. I hope that within five years, we may well have a plant producing novel textile fibre operating in conjunction with the bioproduct mill.”

“The textile fibre produced from pulp has a good potential to be used as cotton in clothing materials,” believes Niklas von Weymarn, VP of Research at Metsä Fibre.

The timetable and budget will hold

Timo Merikallio, project director responsible for the construction of the bioproduct mill, assured that the project is advancing according to the timetable and budget.

“The number of workers on-site is now about 3,000 people, and the focus of the work is on installations. In January, we commenced the trial run and testing stage that will move forward department-by-department.”

At the same time, the personnel of the new bioproduct mill is actively participating in training to be ready to handle the new mill.

“We have a flat organisation and committed personnel. The opportunity to influence on the content of one’s future work also serves as an additional motivating factor,” says Camilla Wikström, Mill Manager of the bioproduct mill.


Terminals to secure the supply of wood

According to Yrjö Perälä, SVP, Timber Sales and Forest Services at Metsä Group, timber harvesting for the bioproduct mill will start this spring. The mill will consume 6.5 million cubic metres of pulpwood annually.

“The opportunities for harvesting pine and spruce pulpwood can be increased on a sustainable basis by as much as seven million cubic metres. There is a positive trend in demand in timber trade, and I strongly believe that there will be ample supply of wood.”

Wood procurement volumes will increase in the direction north of Äänekoski in particular. The mill will receive 240 truckloads and four full-size trains of pulpwood on a daily basis.

“We have constructed a network of 15 terminals to level the seasonal fluctuations in wood harvesting and streamline the transportations.”

According to Yrjö Perälä, SVP, Timber Sales and Forest Services at Metsä Group, five million cubic metres of the wood consumed by the bioproduct mill will be delivered by trucks and the remaining 1.5 cubic metres by train.


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