Mercer International Inc. is in the planning stages of a new investment project in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Under the umbrella of Mercer Timber Products, which currently operates one of Germany’s largest sawmills out of the Thuringia region, there are plans to build another sawmill in Arneburg located near the Mercer Stendal (MS) pulp mill, one of Mercer’s five pulp mills worldwide.
The idea for the project originated before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the long and complex process to come to a standstill. It was since taken up again during the spring of 2021 and has been pursued ever since. In fact, this past summer the building application was submitted to the responsible planning office of the Stendal district.
On October 14, André Listemann, Managing Director of Mercer Stendal, and Torsten Kröger, Strategic Project Manager at Mercer Timber Products, presented the current project status, along with the first site plans, to the Altmark Industrial and Commercial Park Planning Association in the Arneburg town hall. Previously, the companies had involved the Arneburg town council to discuss the project idea.
“There are two basic requirements for Mercer International to operate such a sawmill here,” Listemann said. “The first is that the sawmill is wanted – by the district, the municipality, the people who live and work here, as well as neighbouring companies- we would like to assure ourselves of this support. Second, the authorities must approve the building application that has been submitted. Only when these conditions are met can further steps be taken at Mercer in the planning and implementation of this project.”
The integration of a sawmill into a pulp site in Germany would be a first.
The project also includes expanding the existing rail facilities in the industrial and commercial park, the goal being to handle the additional shipments of lumber to the Arneburg site primarily by rail. In doing so, the truck traffic loads already approved for the Stendal pulp mill will not be exceeded for the region.
The Arneburg site was chosen for the new sawmill location because of its proximity to the pulp mill, allowing for numerous synergies. With the sawmill located here, some of the current deliveries of wood chips to Mercer Stendal for pulp production will be eliminated. These freed-up capacities absorb transport costs of raw material for the sawmill to a relevant extent while ensuring the material can be used twice. The residual products will not only be used in the pulp mill for the production of its core product, but also for biochemicals and the bioelectricity that powers the mill. The heat generated from this energy in the pulp mill’s existing power plant will then be used to dry the lumber at the sawmill.
“The integration of a sawmill into a pulp site in Germany would be a first,” said Kröger, explaining the innovative approach to using renewable raw materials in the production network.
“At Mercer Stendal, and throughout the company, we not only have a high level of expertise in the production of pulp, biochemicals, and green energy, but also a high standard for the effectiveness of our processes. We are constantly re-evaluating and trying to improve. This sawmill could make a significant contribution to our processes,” Listemann added.