Conifex plans to build biomass plant in BC

By Anna Austin | March 10, 2011

Conifex Timber Inc. is planning to build a $45 million biomass energy project at the site of two of its sawmills in Mackenzie, British Columbia.

Conifex acquired the two sawmills from DTR Wood Ltd. in June, and has since been upgrading them to recommence operations. Chief Financial Officer Yuri Lewis said one of the mills is currently operating on a one-shift basis, and the plan is to add a second shift during second quarter of 2011. The other plant is idle for now.

The two sawmills are in close proximity to each other, Lewis said, and the biomass plant will be built on site in a separate facility. The company estimates that the sawmills will produce about 300,000 metric tons of biomass fiber annually that will be used to fuel the biomass plant, when both are running at their two-shift capacity.

Conifex is planning to purchase a 36-megawatt steam turbine from Dresser-Rang Canada Inc. to power the facilities. The company is currently in negotiations with B.C. Hydro for the purchase of the remaining electricity. The turbine will also accommodate the mills’ future lumber drying requirements.

Once the power purchase agreement is finalized, the project is sent to the B.C. Utilities Commission for regulatory approval, Lewis said, which will take three to four months. The company hopes to have the project completed by mid-2012, she added.

Conifex has one additional sawmill operating in Fort St. James, British Columbia.