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Canada federal funding toward forest industry innovation includes Millar Western's $42M bioenergy project at Alberta pulp and lumber mill site [Updated]

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Canada federal funding toward forest industry innovation includes Millar Western's $42M bioenergy project at Alberta pulp and lumber mill site [Updated]

April 09, 2013 - 07:51
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SAN FRANCISCO, April 9, 2013 (RISI) -The government of Canada last week announced $30.4 million in federal funding toward "the transformation of the forest industry through innovation and market expansion." The mostly wood products investments also include a $42 million bioenergy project at Millar Western Forest Products' pulp and lumber mill site in Alberta.

Addressing forest industry stakeholders at the annual Council of Forest Industries (COFI) convention in British Columbia, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver announced an investment of $19.5 million in five projects in Western Canada under the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program. He also announced $10.9 million in funding for the 2013-14 Expanding Market Opportunities Program, including support for a Canadian wood products trade office in India.

"Investments like these are helping to shape the forest industry of tomorrow," Oliver said at the Apr. 4 COFI meeting in Prince George, BC. "Today, we are developing and commercializing products we could hardly have imagined just a few years ago and reaching new and more diverse markets domestically and abroad."

The IFIT funding includes $6.75 million to Millar Western in Whitecourt, AB. For the first time in Canada's forest sector on a commercial scale, the mill will generate green energy from pulp mill effluent by using innovative anaerobic hybrid digester technology, the government said. This waste-to-energy technology has strong potential for replication at other mills across Canada.

The $42 million waste-to-energy facility, currently under construction at Whitecourt, has also received $17.5 million in Alberta government grants, with Millar Western providing the balance of project funding.

"Scheduled for start-up in early 2014, the facility will use innovative technology -- never before implemented in Canada or applied anywhere in a forest products setting -- to generate energy from a pulp mill waste stream," the company said.

Replacing a portion of the mill's electricity and natural gas consumption with renewable energy, the project will cut mill greenhouse gas emissions and lower input costs; it will also reduce fresh water use and further improve the quality of treated waste water discharged to the Athabasca River, Millar Western added.

Other IFIT funding includes $4.9 million for Tolko Industries to make both specialty and commodity oriented-strand-board (OSB) at its Meadow Lake mill in Saskatchewan.

This updated story includes further information from Millar Western Forest Products.