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Metsä Fibre and Andritz sign preliminary deal on advanced woodyard tech for Kemi

Metsä Fibre, part of Finland-headed forest industry major Metsä Group has announced that it has signed a preliminary agreement with Austria-headed technology supplier Andritz AG on advanced wood raw material processing equipment for the planned Kemi Bioproduct Mill in Kemi, northern Finland.

Andritz has supplied woodyard solutions with log unloading, chipping, woodchip stack-and reclaim for numerous forest industries including Metsä Fibre.

According to Metsä Fibre, the preliminary agreement includes the delivery of two automated overhead cranes, as well as their installation and commissioning. This type of fully autonomous, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based equipment is a new solution for the reception, storage and process feeding of wood raw material, even on a global scale.

It also enables the minimisation of the area needed at the mill for storing wood raw material. The domestic rate of the delivery is 45 percent and the project is managed by Andritz’s Finnish subsidiary Andritz Oy in Lahti.

Quiet, safe, and efficient BAT woodyard

The electrical equipment and the systematic placement of functions will enable wood yard operations to be run on fossil-free fuel. One of Metsä Group’s strategic sustainability goals is to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and the generation of fossil-based carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The Kemi bioproduct mill will contribute to achieving this goal.

Fully automated wood processing equipment is also a good example of our forerunner position. We will acquire the best available technology for the new bioproduct mill in Kemi, and we are ready for new types of solutions to further develop our bioproduct mill concept, said Jari-Pekka Johansson Project Director at Metsä Fibre.

The minimization of noise from the woodyard was seen as a key aspect of the environmental impact assessment for the Kemi bioproduct mill.

Minimizing environmental impacts is important, and now selected equipment will help us reduce the noise impacts of wood processing, remarked Johansson.

Transport and unloading arrangements in the new wood yard will be implemented safely and efficiently. The wood processing equipment will be placed in such a way that the wood unloading areas and the wood yard will be close to the equipment.

This will minimise the need to transfer wood raw material. Timber trucks will use a one-way route to avoid encounters between vehicles, and there will be no crossings between road and rail traffic. With one-way route of timber trucks it is also possible to avoid reversing traffic and warning signal noises caused by it.

A long history of successful cooperation

Andritz has delivered more than 50 traditional wood processing crane solutions to the North American market, and this agreement is a significant breakthrough for wood processing crane deliveries in Europe. Our development work in robotics and artificial intelligence further improves the environmental performance and competitiveness of the solution by enhancing wood processing efficiency and minimising waste. It’s a great opportunity for us to participate in the construction of the world’s most advanced wood processing solution for Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill in Kemi. This is a continuation of the long and successful cooperation between Andritz and Metsä Fibre, said Janne Lähteenmäki, Product Group Manager, Wood Processing, Andritz.

Final decision expected soon

According to Metsä Fibre, the Kemi Bioproduct Mill project is progressing as planned in terms of equipment purchases, environmental permit process, financing negotiations and the logistics required for the new mill, among other aspects.

The decision concerning the EUR 1.5 billion investment in the bioproduct mill will be made in autumn 2020, at earliest. If implemented, the Kemi bioproduct mill will produce 1.5 million tonnes of softwood and hardwood pulp per year, as well as many other bioproducts.

If implemented, the investment will secure the existing 250 jobs at the Kemi mill decades to come. Through its direct value chain, the bioproduct mill will employ around 2 500 people in Finland, which is 1 500 people more than the employment at the current pulp mill in Kemi.

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 project engineering started at the beginning of August 2020 which means the detailed planning of the mill’s technology, construction, installations and commissioning, as well as preparation for the construction phase.

The planning work is being carried out in cooperation with the four main implementation partners: Valmet, ABB, AFRY and Fimpec. From the beginning of August, more than 400 people have been working in the project engineering organisation.

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

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