Local municipality and ministry positive about VKG's pulp mill plan

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Lüganuse municpality mayor Andrea Eiche with VKG's pulp mill presentation. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The initial feedback for energy firm Viru Keemia Grupp's (VKG) plan to construct an €800 million pulp mill in Ida-Viru County seems to be positive as the project has received positive assessments from the local Lüganuse municipality and the Ministry of the Environment.

The prospective pulp mill in Lüganuse municipality will cost somewhere in the range of €800 million. Different bioproducts would be produced with soluble cellulose viscose fibers the main product, used in the clothing industry, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Tuesday.

A pre-planning request presented to the municipality by VKG aims to assess the possibilities of developing such a pulp mill in the area. "We clearly understand that the environmental requirements and acceptance, the acceptance of such production from an environment perspective is the most critical question," said VKG board chairman Ahti Asmann.

The water required for production is set to be pumped out of the company's Ojamaa mines. While discussing locations for the mill, VKG took the already existing infrastructure into account. "We find that it is possible to develop this production with lesser impact on the environment aside our current production," Asmann noted.

Lüganuse municipality must now decide if they wish to proceed with the pre-planning process or not. Municipality mayor Andrea Eiche is optimistic about the mill, because an investment of such value would help strengthen Ida-Viru County's economy even after the planned EU green deal.

As of data currently available, there should be 250 new jobs in the area by 2026.

"After getting acquainted with VKG's plans, I personally see no danger whatsoever to Estonian nature. I even see the Estonian state and people winning from this. /.../ I think that the Estonian forest culture grows with this, because they will begin using finer wood, which does not come from clearcutting, but rather from necessary felling, such as sanitation logging and thinning," Eiche explained.

The Ministry of the Environment is also positive about the development.

"If we manage Estonia's forests, then the value from these managed forests should undoubtedly be valued as much as possible in Estonia, which means developing value to local wood. And if it can develop in a manner that goes along with our new technologies, takes other environmental conditions into consideration while also giving Ida-Viru County, an area with a large rate of unemployment, more jobs, it is undoubtedly a positive vision," said Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center).

The general enthusiasm is not shared by nature conservationists, however, who are worried about the amount of wood required for the mill to function.

"We clearly see that felling volumes in Estonia should decrease. And this giant factory as a consumer would not help that," said Siim Kuresoo, deputy chair for the Estonian Fund for Nature.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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