TALLINN - Estonia's most recent foreign investment is also proving to be one of the country's largest. Estonian Cell, an aspen-pulp mill, will begin operation in the small northern city of Kunda next year. The project costs 2.4 billion Estonian kroons (153 million euros) and will provide 75 people with jobs.
Ownership of the mill is split between the Austrian group Heinzel, Larvik Cell from Norway and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Deve-lopment.
Riia Ratnik, a member of the management board of Estonian Cell, said that investors described the local investment climate using keywords such as "high technology, low costs, lots of wood and clever people."
These, however, are not the only reasons to invest in Kunda. Ratnik also mentioned the proximity of Kunda's harbor, good water supply, as well as competitive energy and gas prices. Estonian Cell will consume about 2.6 percent of the energy produced annually by Estonian Energy, which is about 200 GW, and 2.3 million cubic meters of water from the Kunda River.
The production will require half of Estonia's annual 800,000 cubic meters of chopped aspen resources, which currently goes toward exports. Estonian Cell has so far signed long-term contracts with two timber suppliers.
At full capacity, the pulp mill will produce 140, 000 tons of aspen pulp, which is used in the production of high-quality paper and tissue.
According to Roar Paulsrud, one of the owners of Estonian Cell, the company will increase the value of wood by at least 20 times. Paulsrud developed the idea of establishing an aspen-pulp mill in 1999 as he bought aspen from Estonia through his Norwegian company Larvik Cell.