Siberia | Industry, manufacturing

Amazar’s pulp fiction gets closer to reality

12 Mar '09
Olga Konovalova, news editor

A pool of Chinese investors wants to build a cellulose plant in Amazar, Zabaikalsky region with projected annual capacity of 400,000 tons of pulp, Marchmont reported on February 24, 2009. The land site, currently unused and reserved for the project, is owned by the RF Ministry of Defense. The regional authorities have been trying for seven years to get federal authorities give away the land for the plant construction. Now it seems there is some action.

Chinese investors are ready to invest $55m in the plant this year, Marchmont was told by officials in Zabaikalsky region government. The regional Minister of Industry and Energy Oleg Polyakov estimates that when the project is completed, the total investment could hit $100m.

Regional officials couldn’t name all the Chinese firms participating in the project, but confirmed some, including Zhezhong, Huachen, Star Paper Company, Ltd.

Three times and you’re in

A proposal for a cellulose plant was first announced in 2002. In June 2005, the regional authorities held the foundation stone ceremony, but since then the project has been stone cold. The RF Ministry of Defense simply wouldn’t give up its ownership of the land, regional officials told Marchmont.

The 735.4-hectare site is located near the village of Amazar in the region’s Mogocha district, 800 kilometers outside Chita. The site used to accommodate a military base, which has been closed for almost 20 years now.

According to Mr. Polyakov, the regional authorities twice wrote to RF Minister of Defense asking him to cede the land to the local government, and twice the request was rejected.

“In February this year at a meeting in Chita the regional governor Ravil Geniatulin raised the issue with the RF President Dmitry Medvedev, who, in his turn, asked the RF Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov, also present at the meeting, to reconsider the matter. Mr. Serdyukov asked the governor to write another request and said that the project wouldn’t be held up any more,” Minister Polyakov told Marchmont.

The request has been drafted and will soon be sent to the federal government, Mr. Polyakov added.

If all goes well, the land appropriation process shouldn’t take longer than three months, Mr. Polyakov said. Construction is scheduled to last up to two years, with the plant to reach its projected capacity in another 1.5 years, he added.
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