Kaicell Fibers mulls new biorefinery in Finland


The industrial complex is planned to house a 400-500,000 tpy pulp mill, with softwood pulp accounting for the lion's share of the production capacity.

Plans to build a biorefinery including a pulp mill in the Kainuu region of northern Finland have acquired clearer contours. The regional council of Kainuu and NC Capital Partners, a sister company of bioeconomy consultants NC Partnering, have jointly founded an independent company called Kaicell Fibers Ltd. The goal is to drive the project forward until a modern biorefinery comes up in the Kainuu region.

CEO of the new company is Eero Suutari, a businessman and member of the Finnish parliament. Also on the managing board of Kaicell Fibers is Martin Doktar, a pulp and paper industry veteran, who will take charge of the company's investor relations, it is learnt.

"The idea behind the project is not to build yet another conventional pulp mill", Martin Doktar told EUWID. The pulp mill would only serve as the nucleus of an industrial park, consisting of different companies from the bioeconomy and timber processing segment. Although pulp production will be a core component of the business model, activities of downstream partner companies will be equally important.

"The site will be large enough to accommodate our industrial partners", he added. Several locations in the region are being reviewed to set up the park.

Many questions are still open, viz. what types of pulp will be produced in Kainuu, which downstream industrial branches will move to the site as well as what technologies it will use. Talks with interested parties are still at a nascent stage, Mr Doktar explained. As things stand, softwood pulp might account for a large part of the envisaged capacity of between 400,000 and 500,000 tpy. The mill might as well produce smaller volumes of hardwood pulp grades. Output which partner companies cannot use (initially), could be sold on the open market, Mr Doktar added. However, the company's goal is to be as independent as possible from the global pulp market.

The idea for a biorefinery was born out of a desire to utilise the wood that is abundantly available in Kainuu and yet not sufficiently converted there but exported instead. According to conservative estimates, the region yields about 2.5 million m³ of wood annually for conversion. The wood sourcing area would not exceed a 100-km radius, Mr Doktar said.

As regards the future ownership of the pulp mill, the Kaicell spokesman said that he could envisage several options including a full-fledged sale to an interested buyer. In his opinion, it is rather unlikely that the Kainuu region will be involved in the long term as the operator of the biorefinery.

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