According to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, the people of Kemijärvi have to accept the closure of the local Stora Enso pulp mill as a fact.
On a visit to Kemijärvi on Sunday, Vanhanen said that efforts are now focused on bringing new industrial jobs into the area. He pointed out that if a period of unemployment extends beyond three months, the probability of re-employment falls sharply, and said that a lot of work has to be done to find new industrial jobs for the area.
Vanhanen said he considers new plans for machine shop and laminated wood production operations in Kemijärvi as a good new beginning.
"As for timber, forest management and harvesting, and transport, I am not so worried because Stora Enso has pledged to source the same amount of timer from here as in the past. And, there are other timber purchasers. In other words, I am rather confident that for Finland to manage its timber requirements in general, forests in Lapland will have to be harvested, not less, but rather more than in recent years. This is of course a crucial matter for employment and for this economic area," said Vanhanen.
Vanhanen's arrival on Sunday was met by a group of around 200 protestors, dressed in black. Leaders of a local movement demanded action from the Prime Minister to keep the pulp mill in operation. There have be doubts expressed about plans for a new laminated wood plant in Kemijärvi because suitable grades of wood are not locally available and there is already overproduction in the sector.