The British Columbia based company that acquired the old pulp mill in Prince Albert has taken the first step toward resuming operations.
In an email to paNOW, the Director of Corporate Communications, Kathy Cloutier, said “Paper Excellence is currently in the preliminary evaluation phase regarding a business case with respect to restarting Prince Albert Pulp Inc. to produce 1050 Adt/d NBSK pulp as well as produce power for the mill in addition to exporting power to SaskPower.”
In order to make a fully informed decision, Cloutier said a request for proposals has been issued seeking engineering consulting services that will outline design, build and start-up of the mill. The request was issued last month with proposals to be received by August 31.
“The engineering services proposal will include equipment removal, repairs and replacement, facility infrastructure repairs, improvements throughout the mill site, new equipment and automation installations,” Cloutier said in her emailed statement.
The mayor of Prince Albert is cautiously optimistic about the news. Greg Dionne said he hasn’t had much faith in the last few years that the mill would restart and he doesn’t want to get the community’s hopes up.
“From my past history of being a developer, I am actually surprised they have only given two months for the RFPs because to go through a building of that size and do the things that they want to do like replace equipment…and the building is in rough condition… I thought the RFP would be longer than two months but I am just pleased that something is happening and I hope for a positive outcome,” Dionne said.
About 700 people lost their jobs when Weyerhaeuser closed the Prince Albert Pulp Mill in 2006. Domtar bought the mill two years later but operations never resumed. Paper Excellence took it over in 2011. A non-compete clause with Domtar prevents them from producing pulp until 2020.
Cloutier said Paper Excellence is committed to the province of Saskatchewan and city of Prince Albert but emphasized the request for proposals is a very preliminary step towards the mill reopening.
“Any resumption of pulp and power production must be a sound viable business decision,” she said.
On Twitter: @TeenaMonteleone
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