Work begins on green mill plan
Harmac received $27 million in federal funding

Robert Barron, The Star
Published: Friday, March 19, 2010

Work has begun on a number of projects at Nanaimo's Harmac pulp mill that will use $27 million in federal funding earmarked for green initiatives at the mill.

Harmac president Levi Sampson said the mill has a two-year window to use the money to improve energy efficiency and/or environmental performance in mill operations. He expects much of the work will be completed by the fall, with the remainder to be finished in the second year.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day announced in October that Harmac is among 38 pulp and paper mills across the country to receive funding under the $1-billion Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program.

Upgrades to the mill's power boiler, which converts hog fuel into steam to create energy for the mill. That would make the facility self-sufficient in energy-use for the first time and was considered a priority project last fall. Sampson said other projects have also been identified that will be paid for with the federal cash.

"We only receive the money once the projects are completed, but we see no problems finishing within the timelines that were laid out," he said. "It's a win-win situation because the projects will not only make Harmac a greener operation, it will be more efficient and cost-effective."

Other projects include improvements to Harmac's pulp machine that will reduce the natural gas required to dry the pulp bales and take out more moisture, which will make them less expensive to ship. Sampson said new technology will also be implemented that will allow the mill to reduce its use of chlorine and bleach in its operations.

He said while upgrades to the power boiler to make Harmac self-sufficient in energy will be paid for with the federal money, the costs of the long-term plan to produce extra electricity that can be sold to B.C. Hydro and used on the provincial power grid will likely be carried by Harmac.

"It's definitely on our radar screen, but it's a big project that involves building large-scale infrastructure on our site so we'll be looking at it further when the other projects are completed," Sampson said. 250-729-4234