The company that owns the Prince Albert Pulp and Paper Mill assets says it plans to restart the pulp mill in summer of 2023.
Paper Excellence is completing a detailed evaluation of the existing equipment that will be refurbished and carrying out engineering work for the new equipment.
“We plan to replace the entire fibre line from the digester to the last bleaching stage. This will replace the heart of the mill and let us take full advantage of the existing recovery boiler which is one of the most modern in Canada,” said Carlo Dal Monte, vice president, energy and business development.
Paper Excellence says it recently invested more than $600,000 in engineering and consulting work to restart the mill.
Paper Excellence says it’s meeting with representatives of the Saskatchewan government and local Indigenous groups to discuss shared funding, project timelines and related investment opportunities.
“We're in talks with 16 different Indigenous nations and other interest in the area to re-establish those agreements as we try to move this initiative forward,” said Graham Kissack, vice president, EHS and corporate communications.
The pulp mill will produce northern bleached softwood craft. Once operational, it will be able to process 1.8 million cubic meters of pulp logs or fibre. Paper Excellence also owns the Bleached Chemi Thermal Mechanical Pulp in Meadow Lake and it’s looking to secure a supply stream for the Prince Albert mill.
The Government of Saskatchewan provided a timber allocation to Paper Excellence in June 2018 tied to the restart of the mill.
“We've had a lot of very positive dealing with the provincial government. We're really excited to work with people from Saskatchewan,” Kissack said.
Kissack says the mill will employ 200 people and create $300 million per year in economic benefits for the Prince Albert region and the province. He also estimates 1000 spin-offs jobs in other sectors will be created from the bump in local employment.
The CEO of the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce says she is cautiously optimistic about the announcement of the re-start of the pulp mill.
“The prospect of adding another 200 jobs to our marketplace is something that cause everyone around here to be excited. And it's awesome that we're going to have more industry in the area,” said Elise Hilderbrandt.
The Weyerhaeuser Pulp and Paper Mill shut down in 2006, costing about 690 jobs.
Paper Excellence bought the pulp mill in 2011. It’s non-compete agreement with Domtar, the former owners expires in March, 2021.
The company also installed new signs at the mill entrance to signal its efforts to restart it.