The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Metsäliitto Cooperative signed last Friday a EUR 75 million loan agreement for the construction of a new large-scale bio-product mill in Finland (Äänekoski). The financing will be submitted for backing by the EU budget guarantee under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
The bio-product mill has already benefited from a separate EUR 200 million EIB loan extended to Metsä Fibre Corporation, part of the Metsä Group. Metsäliitto Cooperative is the parent company of Metsä Group. The total EUR 275 million financing from the EU bank will help finance the new mill, which will produce 1.3 million tonnes of pulp per year. The project includes the generation of energy from renewable sources and an innovative bark gasification plant that will allow the mill to be fossil fuel free. The expected renewable energy generation capacity corresponds to 1% of Finland’s current electricity consumption.
This project represents one of the largest industrial investments ever undertaken in the country. It is expected to create some 6 000 jobs during the construction phase and sustain another estimated 2 500 jobs in the forestry sector. It reflects the Metsä Group’s strategy of increasing its competitiveness through higher product quality, higher resource efficiency, and innovative process optimisation.
Jonathan Taylor, EIB Vice-President responsible for lending in Finland, stated: “We are proud to support this next-generation bio-product mill, as it will contribute to safeguarding and creating a significant number of jobs on a traditional industrial site, and bring substantial improvements in terms of energy efficiency and environmental performance. This first transaction in Finland under the Investment Plan for Europe shows that the EIB is honouring its commitment to roll out the initiative even before the EFSI is officially launched.”