Prince Albert, Sask. pulp mill receives timber allocation for restart

Weyerhaeuser's Prince Albert, Sask., based pulp and paper mill shown Oct. 11, 2005, several days after the company announced it's plans to cease operations at that location. Paper Excellence said the timber allocation decision by the government is critical to the restart of the pulp mill. Geoff Howe / The Canadian Press

A pulp mill in Prince Albert has taken another step toward restarting operations after the Saskatchewan government approved timber allocations to the mill on Thursday.

Paper Excellence said the decision by the government is critical to the restart of the mill.

“Paper Excellence is pleased to have secured the critically needed forest fibre for the 2023 restart of the Prince Albert pulp facility,” Carlo Dal Monte, the company’s vice-president of energy and business development, said in a statement.

“This fibre is critical to the restart of the Prince Albert pulp mill which is currently planned for the fall of 2023.”

According to the company, it has been granted a softwood fibre allocation of just over one million cubic metres per year by the province.

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The mill will have a capacity to produce 350,000 tonnes of Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulp annually, requiring approximately 1,800,000 cubic metres of softwood fibre.

The remaining timber will come from agreements negotiated with other mills, Indigenous timber allocation holders and private landowners.

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Saskatchewan Environment Minister Warren Kaeding says reopening the mill is good news for the province’s sustainable forestry industry.

“The facility will play an important role in making the most effective use of Saskatchewan’s forest resources, including utilizing chips and other smaller pieces of wood from sawmill production,” he said.

Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said increasing the forestry sector is also a key goal in the government’s growth plan.

“The restart of the Paper Excellence pulp mill is expected to create over 1,650 direct and indirect jobs, while enhancing northern and Indigenous economic and labour development opportunities within our world-class forestry sector,” she said.

Paper Excellence has allocated $550 million in capital investments to refurbish and upgrade the facility.

Dal Monte said the company continues to work with stakeholders as it moves forward with the restart of the mill.

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“We remain dedicated to completing the facility’s pre-engineering and filing necessary provincial environmental approvals to achieve our targeted late 2023 restart date,” he said.

“As with many large projects, we are refining our understanding of the facility’s economics and the needed funding arrangements.”

The company said it is also meeting with key Indigenous partners and businesses that will form the supply chain for the mill.

Paper Excellence said 200 people will be employed at the mill and estimates the economic spinoff for northern Saskatchewan at more than $300 million annually.

The Prince Albert pulp mill opened in 1968 as a softwood kraft pulp mill.

It was purchased by Weyerhaeuser in 1986 and remained in operation until 2006 when it was closed and subsequently bought by Domtar.

Paper Excellence bought the mill from Domtar in 2011, which included a 10-year non-compete clause for paper-grade pulp that expired in March.

Click to play video: 'Prince Albert, Sask. pulp mill receives $600K injection from Paper Excellence'
Prince Albert, Sask. pulp mill receives $600K injection from Paper Excellence

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