On May 3, AmCham had its fourth behind-the-scenes tour of the year. This time, 30 members had a unique opportunity to visit AmCham`s Charter Gold Member – Estonian Cell AS!
Estonian Cell AS is an aspen pulp mill which is located in Kunda, Estonia. The production started in April, 2006. Total project cost was 153 million EUR and thereby was the second largest foreign direct investment into Estonian industry. The mill annual capacity is about 160,000 tons of aspen pulp. This pulp is a raw material for high quality paper and tissue production. Estonian Cell employs 86 people and in value chain about 500 employees.
On spot, we received a warm welcome by Siiri Lahe, Member of the Management Board and the company’s CFO, and Helen Neeve, Human Resource and Safety Manager. Helen showed us around the mill and gave us an overview of how the mill works and what are the different phases of producing the aspen pulp. Siiri presented a very informative and educational overview of how the mill was started, how it is still developing and what are the challenges the company is facing. A significant fact is, that after some difficult years, the company owner invested 17 million EUR to save the business. An innovative project was part of the investment – the biogas plant. Using the biggest single tank reactor in Europe, Estonian Cell replaces ~5,000,000 m3 natural gas per annum becoming the biggest Estonian biogas producer.
We continued with a luncheon in a picturesque park, where David O’Brock, the General Manager of Molycorp, and Hannes Reinula, Production Manager of Eastman, joined us for a discussion on regional developments, manufacturing and energy. It turs out, that manufacturing sector companies located in Ida-Virumaa, face similar challenges, which do not only include high energy and gas tariffs, but also employment and language issues.
We would like to sincerely thank Estonian Cell for being such a great host and providing us with such an enjoyable tour, presentation and luncheon! It was an outstanding event! We would also like to thank our members for their active participation.
Photos by Sergei Krasii, Fotki. Inc for AmCham Estonia (c)