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Mercer Celgar utilises wood fibre with FESBC

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Mercer Celgar, a pulp and paper mill in British Columbia, is working to facilitate and increase fibre utilisation with help from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).

The company, which also produces bioenergy to power its operations and serve homes in the area, is working in the Kootenay-Boundary Forest Region with $3 million in funding from FESBC. The funding facilitates the recovery of fibre that would otherwise be burned on site.

Across the firm’s operational area, significant volumes of usable fibre have continued to be burned as the result of harvesting activities by forest licensees or from wildfire risk reduction projects near communities or in parks. Meanwhile, Mercer Celgar has been exploring ways to increase its fibre supply by improving the utilisation of non-sawlog fibre to its pulp mill in Castlegar.

“The FESBC funding has provided the economic support required for logging contractors to explore new methods of increasing utilisation of fibre from the areas they were harvesting,” said Gord Pratt, operations manager at FESBC.

“For this project to be successful, it took many partners to adjust their operations and policies to allow fibre to make its way to the pulp mill.”

Pratt said these adjustments included how logs were loaded onto trucks and the support of residents to allow logging trucks to use roads on private land to recover fibre from a wildlife risk reduction treatment nearby. If not recovered, this fibre would have been burned on site.

Stan Hadikin, RPF, manager of fibre procurement at Mercer Celgar, commented: “Mercer Celgar’s programme with FESBC has strongly influenced the company’s decision to proceed with the wood-room modernisation announced last week that incorporates full forest utilisation and sustainable resource management as a key requirement of the project.

“Strong collaborative efforts from industry, government, and stakeholders demonstrate a multitude of benefits including reduced wildfire risk, enhanced public safety, increased employment, improved wildlife habitat, ecosystem resilience, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Fibre utilisation can minimise the overall residual fibre on-site by 10-90%. This project involves working with forest operators to increase the use of wood fibre and support the transportation of up to 200,000 m3 of residual fibre for use at Mercer Celgar facilities.

“FESBC is excited to hear that Mercer Celgar was able to take what they learned from their FESBC fibre utilisation project and make the decision to invest in a significant improvement to their facility, which will result in the long-term increase of forest fibre utilisation well into the future,” added Pratt.