Metsä Group celebrated the inauguration of its next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, on 18 October 2017. The mill was inaugurated by the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö. With a cost of EUR 1.2 billion, the mill is the largest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry. It will produce pulp and a wide selection of other bioproducts. The decision to implement the mill project was based on the increasing global demand for these products.
In his inauguration speech, President Sauli Niinistö noted that Finland's well-being is largely based on the export industry.
“The forest industry continues to be a key export sector and a major employer in Finland. Its economic importance is emphasised by the fact that raw materials and services needed in production are mainly sourced from Finland. Metsä Group's Äänekoski bioproduct mill is an example of the forest industry of the new era. Its positive impacts on the Finnish economy are substantial,” Sauli Niinistö says.
President and CEO of Metsä Group Kari Jordan emphasised in his address that economic growth in Finland requires investments. The forest industry is doing well and has resumed its position as Finland’s most important export industry.
“All in all, Metsä Group is investing around EUR 2 billion between 2015 and 2017. Of this, around 85 per cent is investments in Finland. The bioproduct mill has nationwide effects. It will increase Finland’s annual exports by EUR 0.5 billion, in addition to creating around 1,500 new jobs throughout the direct value chain and having an effect on wood supply across the country. As Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence, Metsä Group is honoured to be participating in building a stronger economy for the country,” Jordan said.
The construction of the bioproduct mill began in April 2015, and the mill started up in mid-August 2017 – exactly on schedule and on budget. The mill’s production has increased as planned, in line with the start-up curve.
The bioproduct mill has shown that large-scale projects can be implemented in Finland competitively and in line with high quality standards. The project was made possible by careful planning and highly committed employees, as well as open, constructive cooperation between the project parties.
Pulp production at Äänekoski is increasing to 1.3 million tonnes from roughly 0.5 million tonnes. The bioproduct mill is a significant project in terms of Metsä Group’s competitiveness. It is expected to achieve its nominal capacity in mid-2018, which will make Metsä Group the world’s largest producer of softwood market pulp.
With this new bioproduct mill, Äänekoski’s industrial ecosystem will develop and grow further, as the mill serves as a platform for the manufacture of new bioproducts. In the first phase, new bioproducts will include product gas, sulphuric acid, biogas and biofuel pellets. Key bioproduct development projects include lignin products, textile fibres and biocomposites.
The bioproduct mill will accelerate the use of renewable energy in Finland, increasing its share of total energy consumption by around 2 percentage points. In terms of energy efficiency, the mill is a leading facility globally. Its bioelectricity self-sufficiency rate is 240 per cent, and it uses no fossil fuels.