Why is the new mill called a “next-generation bioproduct mill”?
All of the products manufactured at the mill will be bioproducts. In the early stages, 20 per cent of these products will be bioproducts other than pulp. The Metsä Group bioproduct mill will produce high-quality pulp sustainably and resource-efficiently, and it will also produce biomaterials, biochemicals, bioenergy and biofertilisers from production side streams. The mill will use 100 per cent of the raw materials and side streams to manufacture products and produce energy, and it will not use any fossil fuels whatsoever.
A globally unique bioeconomy ecosystem of companies will develop around its pulp production over time.
Why was Äänekoski in Finland selected as the location?
The mill can be built in the existing mill area in Äänekoski, where Metsä Board already has a paperboard mill. The location is ideal in terms of raw material availability, and the necessary logistics networks are already in place. The existing Äänekoski mill was completed 30 years ago and would have required renovation in the near future in any case.
What types of bioproducts will the mill produce in its early stages of operation and over the long term?
The products of the present pulp mill will constitute the core of the product portfolio, including high-quality pulps, tall oil, turpentine, bioelectricity, process steam, district heat and wood fuel.
Potential new bioproducts include product gas, sulphuric acid, methanol, textile fibres, biocomposites, lignin products, fertilisers and biogas. We are studying several processes and product paths, which will be implemented gradually, possibly even in 2017 when the mill is inaugurated.
What types of partners are you hoping will join the ecosystem?
The operating model for the bioproduct mill is based on a partnership network where new products are created in cooperation between various expert operators in the value chain. We are expecting businesses of various sizes and in various stages of development that specialise in biomaterials and bioenergy, for example, to join the ecosystem. Opportunities to manufacture innovative, high-added-value bioproducts will open up for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.
How will the project affect employment?
The project is expected to employ 2,000–3,000 people during the construction phase, with a total employment effect of more than 6,000 person-years. After production begins, the employment effect of the bioproduct mill throughout the value chain in Finland will be 2,500 jobs, including around 1,500 new jobs. The employment effect will be most significant in wood harvesting and transportation.
The number of employees at the Äänekoski pulp mill will remain unchanged at 170. The new mill will secure these jobs far into the future. The bioproduct units to be built in conjunction with the pulp mill will create completely new industrial jobs.
Why is Metsä Fibre making this investment right now?
The steady increase in the global demand for northern softwood pulp is the key factor behind the investment. Our goal is to strengthen our leading position in this market, grow Metsä Fibre’s business operations and improve our profitability over the long term.
How is the project progressing at the moment?
The investment decision was made on 21 April 2015. Excavation work in the mill area began immediately after that, and the letters of intent signed with the key partners were finalised into delivery agreements. The installation of the main equipment will begin in the third quarter of 2016. The trial use of the mill will begin in spring 2017, and the mill will be completed in the third quarter of 2017. The mill will reach its nominal production rate in summer 2018.
What level of emissions will the new mill generate compared to the existing Äänekoski mill?
Despite a significant increase in production, the mill will remain compliant with the environmental permit granted to the present pulp mill in 2006. All production side streams and waste will be reused. The equipment solutions will be based on energy efficiency and clean technology.
- Emissions into water: no effect on the usability classification of the natural waterway
- Emissions into the air: the quality of air in the town will improve, particularly in terms of odorous compounds
- Noise: the noise generated by the mill and the mill area will not exceed the guideline values
- Solid waste: the amount of solid waste will be minimised, and recycling will be continuously developed.
What types of wood will the mill use and in what proportion?
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 use of softwood by 3.9 million cubic metres and the use of birch by 0.4 million cubic metres.
Will the wood raw material be sufficient for such large-scale production? How will you ensure availability?
The use of pulpwood will increase by around 4 million cubic metres per year, meaning that the use will increase by around 10 per cent at the national level. The annual felling of softwood pulpwood can be increased sustainably by 7 million cubic metres in Finland. The effect will spread across Finland through changes in the sourcing areas of our mills.
Our wood supply is supported by the central location of Äänekoski, the broad member base of Metsäliitto Cooperative, and Metsä Group’s strong wood products industry, which uses logs as a raw material. The need for imported wood will remain at its present level.