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Future of Northern Peninsula pellet operation still in question

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball was at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital on April 10 to announce eight new beds for the long-term unit.
According to Ball, the province is still trying to secure a partner for the proposed wood pellet plant for Hawke’s Bay. - Stephen Roberts

Premier says plan still needs a partner

HAWKE'S BAY, N.L. —

The Great Northern Peninsula is waiting for an update on a proposed wood pellet plant for Hawke’s Bay.

But right now, no one is hearing much of anything out of the company that’s supposed to put it there.

In November 2018, Timberlands International, a subsidiary of Active Energy Group (AEG), was awarded two forestry permits for five years for districts 17 and 18.

This included a total annual allowable cut of 100,000 cubic metres across both forestry areas, totalling 500,000 cubic metres over five years.

The company would then use the small diameter wood to produce wood pellets while partnering with a sawmill that would cut the large-diameter wood for lumber.

The pellet plant was slated for construction in the town of Hawke’s Bay at a cost $19.7 million.

However, no partner has been found to cut the lumber and there has been no update on the construction of the pellet plant since the deal was announced.

Premier Dwight Ball provided the St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce with an update on the situation during a visit Wednesday, April 10.

According to Ball, the province is still trying to secure a partner.

“I would love to have something here to extract the forestry resource we have on the Northern Peninsula, but we have nothing yet,” he told the chamber. “We’ve got to find a partner with some credibility to get that done. If someone’s there, we’re more than willing to jump onto it.”

Premier Ball and St. Barbe – L’Anse aux Meadows MHA Christopher Mitchelmore later sat down with The Northern Pen for further discussion on the matter.

The premier does believe AEG’s project could still go ahead.

“It’s certainly not a dead issue and something we’re still encouraging, as we would any other partner that would come forward,” he told The Northern Pen. “They’re working on trying to put together financing, as far as I know, that’s required to put the project together.”

Mitchelmore stressed the importance of finding a sawmill to partner with.

“A real partnership needs to be had there,” he said. “There has been continued interest in unlocking the potential of this asset and how to go about establishing a private sawmill operation.

“As MHA, I’ve continued to have conversations with parties who are interested in starting a sawmill and other operations in Roddickton, but I wouldn’t be able to provide any particulars or details on that.”

Hawke’s Bay mayor Garcien Plowman told The Northern Pen by phone that the company contacted the town last fall about a plot of land they were interested in purchasing from the town.

But there have been no discussions about land purchase since then, and the town hasn’t heard from AEG at all since January.

“There is land available but it hasn’t been sold yet,” he confirmed.

He says what he’s heard is that the company is doing an environmental assessment for the construction of the plant.

Nevertheless, Plowman remains hopeful AEG will go ahead with the pellet plant.

“I’m still optimistic because I haven’t been told any different,” he said. “Is it moving as quickly as people would like? I would say, no. But I’m under the understanding they have to raise money and I don’t know how long that stuff takes.”

The Northern Pen emailed AEG for comment but did not receive a response.

Conditions of AEG’s forestry permits dictate 40 per cent of the timber must be harvested in the first 30 months and the company must show they have the capacity.

If the company doesn’t meet that requirement, the permits can be revoked.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca


Related:

Active Energy changed mind on pellet plant destination in November

Roddickton still part of AEG’s business plan for Northern Peninsula

Council and loggers association want answers on Northern Peninsula pellet plant

No timeline on decision for Northern Peninsula pellet plant

Hawke’s Bay thrilled, Roddickton-Bide Arm and St. Anthony mayors disappointed with pellet plant announcement

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