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Metsä Fibre and Aquaflow sign preliminary deal on Kemi WWTP

Metsä Fibre, part of Finland-headed forest industry major Metsä Group has announced that it has signed a preliminary agreement with Aquaflow Ltd, a Veolia Water Technologies company, concerning a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) for the planned Kemi Bioproduct Mill in Kemi, northern Finland.

Aquaflow provides optimal tailor-made Design & Build Solutions for effluent treatment in the pulp and paper industry including mechanical, biological, aerobic and anaerobic as well as chemical effluent treatment systems, sludge dewatering and internal process water treatment with DAF units and micro-filters to comply with the most stringent effluent quality requirements and the lowest possible sludge productions (photo courtesy Aquaflow).

The preliminary agreement was signed on September 7, 2020, and it covers the implementation of the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) including Aquaflow’s own high-performance key equipment for all main processes for continuous operation under demanding mill circumstances with extremely high availability degree.

According to a statement, the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) would treat the wastewaters of the entire Kemi mill complex and the preliminary agreement covers equipment delivery and process engineering. The degree of Finnish content is approximately 70 percent.

Better than BAT standards

The planning of the bioproduct mill is based on a high degree of environmental, energy and material efficiency. If implemented, the mill would be built using the best available techniques (BAT), and the WWTP  would represent even more advanced technology than required by BAT standards.

Wastewater emissions are minimised primarily by closing water circulation loops, good operation of the production process, and with the help of an advanced wastewater treatment processes. Operation of the new WWTP will be based on a multistage biological treatment process and further chemical treatment, which achieves the required efficiency and reliability.

The burden on waterway recipients from the Kemi mill complex wastewater discharge would be extremely low compared to the emission levels achievable by BAT. Achieving emission level as low as this requires the latest process technology in both production processes of bioproducts and wastewater treatment, combined with good and consistent usability.

According to Metsä Fibre, the emission level as a whole can be considered exceptionally low on both the Finnish and global scale.

The wastewater treatment plant represents the best available technique and helps to ensure that we will achieve the best environmental performance possible, whatever the conditions, said Jari-Pekka Johansson, Project Director, Metsä Fibre.

A global market leader as a supplier of wastewater treatment technology to the forest industry, Aquaflow’s equipment has been tailored to suit the demands of the industry in terms of material supply, capacity, performance and availability. The company also delivered the WWTP for Metsä Fibre’s Äänekoski Bioproduct Mill in Äänekoski.

We will bring the good experiences achieved with a skilled partner from the Äänekoski bioproduct mill project to Kemi and we are going to achieve ambitious environmental targets, Johansson said.

The plant to be delivered to Kemi will be implemented with equivalent technology.

It is great to continue the effective cooperation with Metsä Fibre in a very large domestic project,” commented Mikko Lonka, Sales Director, Aquaflow.

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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