Photo courtesy of Mercer Celgar

Mercer Celgar to install new technology thanks to $4.5 million in federal funds

Project features process to improve fibre processing and address regional fibre availability issues

The federal government has announced it will be funding a $4.5 million project at the Mercer Celgar Pulp Mill in Castlegar.

The project features innovative technology and processes that improve fibre processing and address regional fibre availability issues in British Columbia.

A first-of-its-kind, high-capacity and low-operating-cost stationary flail debarker will be installed at the mill.

The new equipment removes bark from wood that would previously end up as debris after the harvesting process.

The company says this will reduce the amount of forest waste and lower emissions from decreased forest residue burning.

Celgar processes two types of fibre — residual sawmill chips and low quality logs that can’t be made into lumber.

The old debarker took the pulp logs and, one at a time, removed the bark by passing it through a ring.

The new equipment will take multiple logs at a time and abrade the logs using chains.

The mill says it will allow them to debark even the smallest pulp logs in a much more effective and efficient way and utilize more of the waste fibre that would otherwise be burned in slash piles. It will also eliminate the use of diesel-powered mobile chippers that are currently outsourced and in use at remote yards.

The mill will also be upgrading its refuse conveyors and installing equipment that recovers white wood that is lost during the debarking process, maximizing the usable fibre.

“We let nothing go to waste and we mean it — the bark that is removed from the debarking process is used to fuel our power boiler to create steam, which is then converted into our eco-certified green energy,” explains company spokesperson Rose Leslie.

Funding for the project is provided through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, which encourages the Canadian forest sector to adopt innovative technologies and processes to establish new product streams and emerging markets.

“With this support from the Government of Canada, Mercer Celgar is putting in place one more piece of the sustainability puzzle as we rise to meet the challenge of climate change,” said Mercer Celgar President David Gandossi.

“This new wood room allows Mercer to continue its leadership position in the 21st-century bioeconomy by making full and efficient use of our valuable forest resources. In addition, this investment further supports sustainability initiatives that will enhance social, economic and environmental benefits for our communities.”

In the announcement Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan Jr. said, “The forestry sector is innovating, finding new ways to reduce forest waste and developing new products for Canadians. This project that will create jobs and lower emissions. And that’s how we get to net zero.”

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