MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay and Finland’s UPM will work together to manage the environmental impact of any new paper plant in the South American country, Environment Minister Eneida de Leon said Monday.
Uruguayan officials have held talks with UPM about overall guidelines, “but nothing specific has been presented” so far, De Leon said.
The paper mill’s potential environmental impact is a cause for concern, “just like any other industry” affecting water resources, De Leon said.
The “whole (Rio Negro) basin,” where the new plant could be built, is already “polluted,” the environment minister said.
De Leon said that if a final decision was made to locate the plant in the central region, UPM and the government would work together to improve the situation.
The talks between Uruguayan officials and the Finnish company are “in a transitional stage” of exchanging information, and both the Environment Ministry and the firm “are committed” to taking all necessary control measures, De Leon said.
“Every human action in the world requires monitoring and that is what we do ... Our ministry’s mission is to perform that task within the framework of Uruguay’s parameters, which are very strict,” De Leon said.
De Leon said that until a contract was signed, the location of the paper mill would not be announced and there was still no date for finalizing the agreement.
On May 3, UPM and Uruguay announced an agreement on the overall terms for starting negotiations, opening the path for a second stage, including discussions on construction and the infrastructure required to support the plant’s operation.
Once this stage is completed, UPM will decide whether to invest in building the cellulose plant, which would be the company’s second in Uruguay and possibly be located by the river.