TimberWest put pellet plant construction on hold

NANAIMO – TimberWest plans to put pellet plant at Duke Point on hold as company reevaluates business model.

Plans to build a $60-million pellet plant at Duke Point are on hold while TimberWest reviews its business model for the facility and product.

The proposed wood pellet fuel manufacturing plant was announced in July 2014 with construction to begin in 2015.

Production capacity was estimated at 200,000 metric tonnes of wood fuel pellets annually to supply power generation plants worldwide.

Wood pellets, made from tree limbs and tops, sawmill tailings and sawdust that would otherwise go to waste, are considered a renewable, carbon-neutral energy source that can be blended with or even replace coal burned in coal-fired power generation plants.

Domenico Iannidinardo, TimberWest vice-president and chief forester in charge of sustainability, said the company is revisiting the business case for the plant, which involves rezoning issues and arrangements with business partners.

“It’s not only TimberWest land involved, so we have partners that are required to make the pellet plant go ahead,” Iannidinardo said. “We’re in the neighbourhood with Island Timberlands and Harmac and we just have to make sure that we arrange our facilities to be complementary to theirs and all those types of factors.”

Along with fine-tuning arrangements with neighbours, Iannidinardo said the company is also working to “confirm supply arrangements with feedstock coming into the site.”

“So we’re just revisiting all those economics,” he said.

No start date has been set for construction of the plant.

If built, the plant will largest of its kind constructed on Vancouver Island – covering more than five hectares – and provide about 65 full-time jobs for manufacturing and feedstock collection.

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