The original vision for the mill to produce dissolving pulp had to be abandoned after trade actions were imposed. In 2019, our team began actively developing a start-up business plan for Prince Albert based on producing Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK) pulp. The study work has estimated the cost to rebuild and restart the mill is $550 million.
This is the first major Kraft mill rebuild project in Canada since the early 1990s. Upon completion, it will be the most technologically advanced Kraft mill in Canada.
There are three distinct work streams in progress:
Engineering: The engineering team is reviewing the technical aspects of the new equipment being proposed for the mill and developing the scope of work to confirm the condition of existing equipment.
Indigenous Partnership Development: The Indigenous Relations team is engaging with 16 Saskatchewan First Nations and identifying their interests in participating in future operations from forest management/ operations through to pulp production. In October 2021, Paper Excellence signed our first Letter of Intent with two Saskatchewan First Nations.
Regulatory and Policy: This team is working through all the regulatory requirements to build and operate the mill. The Saskatchewan government is actively engaged through a Working Group reporting to Bronwyn Eyre, Minister of Energy and Resources, and Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Trade and Export Development.
Investing in Saskatchewan's forest industry infrastructure
Lumber is a renewable building material that can displace more carbon intensive materials like concrete and steel. Lumber production generates a great volume of chips, shavings and bark during sawmilling. In addition, during harvesting there is wood that cannot be turned into lumber including small diameter trees and treetops. This material is ideal feedstock for our processes and complements the sawmill industry by giving them an additional revenue stream. It also minimizes the amount of material that is left in the forest after harvesting. When the Prince Albert mill restarts, it will consume an estimated 1,849,000 m3 of fibre annually.
Building on our success at Meadow Lake
In 2007, Paper Excellence bought Meadow Lake Mechanical Pulp. At the time, the mill had never generated a return on the government’s investment. Today, Meadow Lake is a leading producer of high quality Bleached Chemi Thermal Mechanical Pulp (BCTMP). It employs 192 full time employees, supports 740 indirect jobs in Saskatchewan, and makes an annual economic contribution of $400 million.
Paper Excellence derives all our wood from well-managed, sustainable North American forests and all our mills have leading renewable energy and waste management practices. The approximately 1,800,000 m3 of wood required by the mill to produce 350,000 tonnes of Kraft pulp annually will be sourced in Saskatchewan.
Prince Albert Mill’s Wood Supply
- Direct timber volume allocations from the provincial government collectively total 1,033,564 m3 , providing 57.4% of the pulp mill’s total wood supply needs at capacity.
- Direct timber volume allocations to Paper Excellence include providing a Term Supply License (TSL) to Paper Excellence solely or with a partner forest harvesting group for volume or area based allocations. These direct timber allocations include the following areas: Prince Albert Forest Timber Supply Area (TSA), North Central TSA, North East TSA, North West TSA, and Crown Agriculture Lands.
- Additional wood in the form of wood chips will be provided through commercial agreements between Prince Albert Pulp Inc. and individual companies and landowners that own/manage the forest resource. Other sources are sawmill wood chips, other timber supply areas (i.e., saw log tops), and private landowners.
Considering the above allocations, the total volume of wood available for the Prince Albert pulp mill has been estimated to be 1,918,129 m3 , which is 106.6% of the wood required at capacity (SK Govt 2021).
The term “fibreline” describes the equipment that directly contacts the pulp from wood chip to a slurry of bright, white fibres. It is the heart of the mill and the most expensive portion of the project. It is designed to match the capacity of the existing recovery boiler and will produce 350,000 metric tonnes of bleached pulp annually.
The fibreline design maximizes the recycling process water and minimizes waste. This will reduce the mill’s water consumption by 40%, improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and increase the product yield on wood.
The state-of-the-art design incorporates the use of oxygen in an oxygen delignification stage which maximizes the amount of lignin removed while preserving the strength of the fibre before it enters the bleach process. This minimizes the amount of chemicals required to achieve the brightness demanded by the global market.
NEW EFFLUENT TREATMENT SYSTEM
There is an excess of water in the process which overflows to sewer, this stream is termed effluent and must be treated before it is discharged to the North Saskatchewan River. The treatment system is designed to meet the proposed Federal pulp and paper regulations for our industry.
This is achieved with a best available technology treatment system comprised of a series of equipment.
REFURBISHMENT OF EXISTING EQUIPMENT
There is lots of existing equipment at the site that will be refurbished to improve performance, reliability, and increase automation. For example, the Prince Albert mill has a best in class Recovery Boiler.
GREEN ENERGY, CARBON & SUSTAINABILITY
Our process is energy intensive, extracting the fibres out of wood takes energy and even more energy is required to dry the pulp for shipping. Paper Excellence does an incredible job of reusing and recovering energy, but we still need a great deal to operate the system. This energy has three sources: biomass, fossil fuel, and electricity.
IMPACTS TO RIVER AND DOWNSTREAM USER
The mill completed Environmental Effects Monitoring during its operation before 2006 that demonstrated water quality downstream of the mill was not negatively impacted by the operation. Our project will reduce effluent flow and meet the more stringent regulations that are in place now, therefore we do not expect any impacts. However, as part of the mill restart plan, a Downstream User Impact Study will be completed.
For more details: The Prince Albert Pulp Mill Public Information Session (pdf)
Source: Paper Excellence