Kemijärvi could see a huge economic boost thanks to a deal agreed on Thursday to construct a new biorefinery in the town, according to a statement from the Finnish company Boreal Bioref. The plant will produce electricity, heat, wood pulp and pine oil from timber.
The project is a collaboration between Boreal Bioref, which is led by the town's former municipal manager Heikki Nivala, and the Chinese firm CAMCE, which is part of the Chinese state-owned Sinomach conglomerate.
The two sides signed a deal on the planning and construction of the plant on Thursday in the Belarussian capital Minsk. The final decision to build the facility can only be made once an environmental impact assessment is completed.
Once fully operational in 2020, the plant will create around a thousand jobs and is expected to cost 780 million euros, according to Boreal Bioref.
Kemijärvi, a town of just under 8,000 people in eastern Lapland, had a population of nearly 13,000 in 1980. It was hard-hit by the 2008 closure of a wood pulp plant in the town and has an unemployment rate of 18.5 percent—4.5 percentage points higher than the capital, Helsinki.