Peace River mayor sees opportunity

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Town of Peace River Mayor Tom Tarpey has written Alberta Premier Jason Kenney suggesting the Mercer Peace River pulp mill may be the answer to providing an economic boost to the region.

However, the idea does need the support of the Alberta government.

In Tarpey’s Dec. 23 letter to Kenney recently made public, he wrote his shovel-ready project idea needs support from either the IEE CCUS Grant Program or ERA Shovel Ready Challenge.”

“The solution revolves around the installation of a new wood processing facility – it can be justifiably described as transformational techno- logy,” writes Tarpey, who is employed by Mercer.

‘Transformational technology’ involves a batch rotary debarker specializing in frozen wood processing, an 18-knife horizontal disk chipper, and a fleet of high-efficiency 10-axle log trucks. The total project cost is estimated at $69.9 million.

The bottom line is the project improves Mercer’s hardwood fibre utilization, which is the best in Alberta already, according to Tarpey, by a further 8.5 per cent.

“This will conserve approximately 0.5 million aspen trees annually,” he says.

And, reduce greenhouse gases emissions by 2050 to 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Economically, the reduction in fibre costs is expected to lower Mercer’s hardwood fibre costs by over 20 per cent.

“This will allow [Mercer] to compete on a much more level playing field vis-à-vis the South American mills,” writes Tarpey.

Tarpey sees the project as a win-win for all.

“In the short term, the construction of the new facility – work that can be done with local and regional skills and equipment in the summer of 2021- will generate 50 direct construction jobs…”

He adds the project makes Mercer more competitive internationally, and helps keeps its doors open, ensuring more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs remain in the Peace Country.

And in the long-term, Mercer may use the project as a springboard for future investment such as a state-of-the-art sawmill, located adjacent to Mercer.

Kenney responded Jan. 13 and was non-committed to the project, but added he would forward Tarpey’s suggestion to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dree- shen for consideration.

“Every decision we make must be focused on restoring economic security for the hard-working people of our province.”

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