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.