The wheels are in motion for a fibreboard processing plant in the County of Stettler valued at $750 million that could employ up to 1,000 people.
Great Plains MDF Production Inc. is moving ahead with plans to develop and operate a plant proposed for two-quarter sections of land on the Town of Stettler’s south side, across the road from the municipal airport, noted vice-president strategic engagements George Clark.
In a phone call to the ECA Review July 20, Clark stated the site has been publicly identified and is currently farmland.
Great Plains MDF has an agreement in place with the landowners with an option to purchase, stated Clark.
The proposed plant would be considered industrial zoning.
The fibreboard product proposed by Great Plains MDF is used in kitchen cabinets, door frames, desks, furniture and underneath laminate flooring stated Clark and is processed from straw.
“The proposed MDF plant will be the world’s largest once completed, with peak capacity approaching 500 million square feet of 3/4 inch equivalent product per year,” stated Clark in a press release.
“Over 2,500 metric tonnes (MT) of straw will be fed in per day at peak capacity.
“An unintended but welcome side benefit of this project is it will have a greenhouse gas emissions reduction footprint estimated as high as four million MT of CO2 annually.
“Because not only is the straw carbon fibre permanently sequestered, millions of trees per year are left standing rather than being cut down for the growing MDF demand. Every 10 years, 177 hectares of deforestation is avoided.”
Clark noted area farmers will be approached to supply the straw.
“Total annual straw fibre required will be almost 900,000 MT, just over two million large square bales,” stated the press release.
“The straw logistics acquisition plan designed by myself and Great Plain’s Stettler community relations representative encompasses an approximate diameter of 500 kilometres within Alberta.
“Six to eight straw storage depots, each about 110 to 125 km from Stettler plus one main depot closer to Stettler will be established to ensure that producers from a very large area can contract straw sales to us on a rotation cycle that works for their soil type and capacity.
Alberta Agriculture has established guidelines for how often straw can be safely harvested while still maintaining excellent maximum yield soil quality.”
Clark stated the plant’s potential is extraordinary.
“From groundbreaking to first production is estimated to take 18 to 20 months,” he stated.
“The following are the more obvious positive impacts: 600 direct construction jobs, 1,800 indirect and induced, 1,000 permanent direct jobs, 2,400 indirect and induced, over $100 million in local contractor/supplier opportunities during construction, over $550 million of the capital investment spent within Alberta with only the most specialized equipment shipping in from elsewhere and over $100 million dollars per year in local contractor supplier opportunities.”
He added that two million large square straw bales would be purchased and transported annually.
Clark stated Great Plains MDF was in Stettler recently to meet with both town and county councils.
“Great Plains MDF Production Inc. met with Stettler county and town council July 15 in a rare joint council meeting to announce that a site in the county has been chosen for their proposed $750 million Straw Fibre MDF board plant,” stated the press release.
“An ideally situated half section adjacent to rail, roads, power and water supply has been selected to build the 1,000,000 square foot main factory building which will house the 70m and 40m continuous press lines.
“Also in attendance at the joint meeting in addition to CEO Brian McLeod, community relations representative Lorne Murfitt and George Clark as VP Strategic Engagements, from Great Plains were senior advisor Gerry Moore, technology vice-president Wayne Wasylciw and vice-president government relations Randy Kerr.
“We had a positive reception, discussed a vast range of positive growth issues that will need to be addressed and then held two public info sessions at the Canalta hotel to begin our commitment to local involvement to the highest level.”
Clark stated the project is past the conception stage and is going to the front end engineering design stage and at the same time financial feasibility studies.
He noted some regional investment opportunities are available for accredited and exempt investors.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter