Press Releases

Procedural Delay to IFC and MIGA Board Discussion of Orion Pulp Mill in Uruguay

Karina Manasseh
Phone: +55-11-816-71105

Carmen Powell
Phone: +-1-202-473-4982

Washington, November 15, 2006 - The discussion at the IFC and MIGA boards of directors on IFC financing and a MIGA guarantee of the Orion Pulp Mill project in Uruguay has been delayed.

The IFC and MIGA rules of procedure provide that any item on the agenda for consideration by the board may be postponed for one meeting, not more than once, at the request of any board member, effectively until the next scheduled meeting of the Board. In this case, that would be Tuesday, November 21.

IFC and MIGA are requesting their Boards’ approval for the project because they believe the mill will cause no environmental harm and will generate significant economic benefits for Uruguay.

The Orion mill, majority owned by Finnish company Oy-Metsa Botnia, will be operated to the highest global standards and comply with IFC and MIGA's respective environmental and social standards. A recently issued independent report provided conclusive evidence that the local area, including the Argentine city of Gualeguaychu, will not experience adverse environmental impacts.

The environmental improvements related to the mill include treating wastewater from the nearby town of Fray Bentos; generating electricity from mill operations that will offset 68,000 tons a year of carbon dioxide by replacing oil burned in public generating plants and reducing acid rain; treating the untreated effluent of an older, unrelated pulp mill in the nearby town of Mercedes; and producing sufficient sodium chlorate to allow local mills in Argentina and Uruguay to move to elemental chlorine-free pulp production.

The Orion mill represents the largest foreign investment in Uruguay's history and will help the country move up the value chain beyond the export of raw materials, while generating some 2,500 much needed local jobs. The plant will generate value added equivalent to 2 percent of Uruguay's entire GDP (based on 2005 figures) and slightly more than 8 percent of the country’s exports for each year of full-capacity production.  It is expected to operate for about 30 years.

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