Jun 25, 2012. /Lesprom Network/. Despite the ongoing slump in global pulp prices, work continues at Nanaimo's Harmac pulp mill to make the operation more environmentally friendly and competitive as the Working Forest Newspaper reported.
Harmac president Levi Sampson said work is well underway on the new $45-million electrical-generation plant at the mill, with the completion date scheduled for June of 2013.
Employment from the building project is currently providing 85 full-time construction and other technical jobs.
Nanaimo Forest Products, which owns the mill, and B.C. Hydro signed a 15-year agreement earlier this year for the turbo-generation plant to produce 25 megawatts of green electricity, enough to light up 17,000 homes, and add it to the province's power grid.
Sampson said Harmac has also spent all of the $27 million in federal funding that was earmarked for the mill in 2010 under the Green Transformation Fund, intended to improve energy efficiency and environmental performance in mill operations.
The funding was part of a $1-billion federal aid package for the nation's struggling pulp and paper industry.
Harmac had until the end of March to spend the money or risk losing it.
The projects completed with the federal funding included major upgrades to the 50-year-old mill's boilers and hog press, as well as renovations to Harmac's pressing, water recycling and chiller systems.
None of the federal funding under the Green Transformation Fund is being used to build the electrical generation plant.
"With pulp prices down, many people are surprised that we've moved forward with so many projects at the mill because mills usually put a lot of projects on hold when prices for their products are low," Sampson said.
"But we've been fortunate in that we've managed to focus on a lot of projects to make the mill more efficient and up-to-date and the operation is running well.
"I'm pleased to say that we produced a record 34,611 tonnes of pulp in May, the highest amount that we've produced since we restarted the mill."