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Project engineering for Metsä Kemi bioproduct mill to begin in August 2020

Metsä Fibre, part of the Finland-headed forest industry major Metsä Group has announced that the project engineering for its bioproduct mill project in Kemi, Finland will start at the beginning of August 2020. This means the detailed engineering of the mill’s technology, civil construction, MEI installations, and commissioning, as well as preparation for the project’s construction phase.

An artist’s rendering of Metsä Fibre’s planned bioproduct mill adjacent to its existing pulp mill in Kemi, northern Finland. Metsä Fibre is a leading producer of bioproducts, biochemicals and bioenergy. Metsä Fibre is the world’s leading producer of bleached softwood pulp and a major producer of sawn timber. Currently employing approximately 1 300 people, the company’s sales in 2019 totalled EUR 2.2 billion. Metsä Fibre is part of Metsä Group (image courtesy Metsä Fibre).

The engineering work will be carried out in cooperation with the selected four main implementation partners – Valmet, ABB, AFRY, and Fimpec. Metsä Fibre has signed preliminary contracts that are conditional for the investment decision.

The contract with Valmet covers the main equipment and automation of the mill and with ABB the electrical systems. The preliminary contract with AFRY includes project management and engineering services, and the preliminary agreement with Fimpec covers the construction services of the mill.

From the beginning of August, more than 400 people, including around 50 Metsä Group employees, will be working in the project engineering organisation. Up until now, around 40 Metsä Group and Botnia Mill Service employees have been involved in the bioproduct mill’s pre-engineering.

The Kemi bioproduct mill project is proceeding as planned and according to the schedule, we will start project engineering at the beginning of August. This is an important step towards the investment decision and construction of the mill. For example, the project organisation expands as required, said Jari-Pekka Johansson, Project Director at Metsä Fibre.

Investment decision pending

Prerequisites for the EUR 1,5 billion investment decision are estimated to be fulfilled in the autumn of 2020 after the environmental permit process is completed. In addition to the environmental permit process, the bioproduct mill project is currently being progressed through financing negotiations and the development of the logistics needed for the new mill.

Second-phase preparatory work is already ongoing in the mill area in Kemi to ensure the smooth start of the construction phase of the bioproduct mill immediately after the investment decision has been made. The second-phase preparatory work in the mill area includes for example test pilings.

During the construction phase, the bioproduct mill’s employment impact is estimated to be nearly 10 000 person-years, of which more than half would be carried out in Kemi. The number of individual employees working in the mill area over the entire construction phase is estimated to rise to around 15 000.

BAT for total efficiency

The planning of the new bioproduct mill is based on a high degree of environmental, energy, and material efficiency. If implemented, the mill will be built using the best available techniques (BAT) and even more advanced techniques, such as the sulphuric acid plant and the bark gasification.

The bioproduct mill will not use any fossil fuels at all, and its electricity self-sufficiency rate will be 250 percent. This would further strengthen Metsä Group’s major position as an electricity producer using renewable domestic raw materials.

If implemented, the Kemi bioproduct mill will produce around 1.5 million tonnes of softwood and hardwood pulp a year, as well as many other bioproducts. The investment would secure the current 250 jobs in the Kemi mill area.

Through its direct value chain, the bioproduct mill would employ around 2 500 people in Finland, which is 1 500 people more than with the current Kemi pulp mill.

The bioproduct mill’s annual use of pulpwood, mainly procured from Finland, will be around 7.6 million m3 per year, which is 4.5 million m3 more than the existing pulp mill uses annually.

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