Pulp mill pessimism

January 29, 2016

By: Prince Alber Daily Herald

Paper Excellence offers a non-update in response to Mayor Greg Dionne’s State of the City Address.

Don’t hold your breath for the Prince Albert Pulp Mill to re-open, Mayor Greg Dionne said during Thursday’s State of the City Address.

“If the pulp mill opens, it will be six to eight years out,” he estimated, noting that the facility’s current owner, Paper Excellence, has a non-compete clause with the previous owners, Domtar Corp.

The non-compete clause prevents Paper Excellence from producing kraft pulp product, something Paper Excellence initially planned to circumnavigate by producing dissolved pulp product.

Then, China killed that effort’s financial viability by introducing countervailing duties on dissolved pulp product, pushing them to shift gears toward producing fluff pulp product, which hasn’t gone anywhere since it was announced in 2013.

Now, Dionne questions not only the viability of the pulp markets, but also the infrastructure in place at the Prince Albert Pulp Mill site.

“There are leaks, the equipment has not been serviced for years, black mould has taken over the place — It does not look pretty,” Dionne described.

The City of Prince Albert has ceased inspections of the facility due to its dilapidated state, the mayor said.

The City of Prince Albert is currently investigating what possibilities there might be when it comes to the mill’s co-generation project, which between 2012 and 2014 generated electricity to the SaskPower grid by burning wood.

The effort employed about 40 people at a time during its two years of operations — an effort shut down due to the lack of available wood product.

Following Dionne’s State of the City Address, Jessica Ko, Paper Excellence’s head of external communications, said by phone that there are “no updates at this moment” on the Prince Albert Pulp Mill.

They still intend to re-open the mill, she said; “Soon, we hope, but no definite timeline right now.”

Paper Excellence is currently under negotiations with Domtar Corp. to get their non-compete clause expunged, an effort to which Ko declined sharing further insight.

Types of pulp product

  • Kraft pulp: This is the type of pulp Paper Excellence is currently prohibited from producing due to a non-compete clause with Domtar Corp. Kraft pulp is used to produce various types of paper.
  • Dissolved pulp product: This type of product is used in food additives, shaving gel, the manufacturing of plastics, cigarette filters, rayon and various other items. A 50 per cent countervailing duty from China killed this effort’s financial viability in 2013.
  • Fluff pulp: After their dissolved pulp product aspirations were dashed, Paper Excellence looked at fluff pulp: a product that is highly absorbent and is used in things like diapers.

 

By: Prince Alber Daily Herald

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