Viru Keemia Grupp (VKG) has picked a location for the billion-euro pulp mill the firm wants to construct in Ida-Viru County. VKG has suggested that whether the pulp mill will materialize depends on logging volumes in the coming years. Residents of the village of Aa in Lüganuse Municipality, where VKG would construct the plant, remain cautious.
Of two potential locations for the pulp mill, VKG has chosen the one further north and closer to their existing oil shale industrial facilities.
"There is very good access to the site and environmentally sparing access to water in logistic terms. We will also be able to use existing infrastructure for transporting raw material and ready production," said Irina Bojenko, head of public relations for the company.
The mill's raw water would come from the soon to be closed Ojamaa Mine from where it would be sent to the Gulf of Finland once it has served its purpose.
Local authority welcoming
"The green transition will see jobs disappear and we need to intensively work on job creation. Luckily, that is what VKG is doing based on what they know. We are very glad to see this development," said Anu Horn, the mill project's manager for the Lüganuse Municipality.
Horn said that while the plant would rather cater to the labor market of the nearby city of Kohtla-Järve, one needs to look at the big picture in such matters.
She said that the first stage of the special plan for the pulp mill should be approved at the June 29 Lüganuse Municipality Council sitting. "Securing approval would not make the plant a done deal. It would allow us to move on to phase two and carry out even more detailed surveys meant to tell us whether it is even possible to construct the pulp mill in the chosen location," Horn said.
Local residents anxious
The nearest residential buildings lie a few kilometers from where the plant would be built. Residents of the village of Aa, located on two sides of the Tallinn-Narva highway and sporting a seaside resort area, are anxious in the face of the new mill.
"No one in the village approves of the plan, as far as I have talked to people. There will be no benefit for the village and we cannot see good coming of it. There will be heavy trucks, pipelines and other disturbances to our summer stay here," said Helmi Sibrits, village elder for Aa that has also been dubbed Estonia's crossword puzzle capital. She said that the village plans to convene a meeting to discuss the pulp mill project in the near future.
VKG has suggested that whether the pulp mill will be constructed ultimately depends on Estonia's logging volumes remaining on par with recent years. Should the annual logging volume fall to below ten million cubic meters, there would simply not be enough raw material for the mill.
Estonia's Minister of Climate Kristen Michal (Reform), who supports the pulp mill plan, said that adding value to timber in Estonia is even more important than logging volumes.
"Policy needs to prioritize adding as much value as possible to a resource you've decided to utilize. This must also be the goal in the timber sector," Michal said.
VKG hopes to launch the pulp mill in 2027, with the investment decision to be made in late 2025 or early 2026. The cost of constructing the plant was estimated at €800 million in 2021, which has by now grown to around €1 billion.
Editor: Marcus Turovski