Pellet proposal waiting for go-ahead

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It’s a waiting game now.

Richard Spinks, representing British Columbia-based RMD Environmentals and the international consortium proposing a facility to enable the recycling of end-of-life sawmill waste which now has economic use, has confirmed to The Advocate that an offer on the former Daewoo property in Trenton has been made to Nova Scotia Lands which currently owns the property.

“We’ve put in an offer and we’ve today received a response; our offer is being considered by government,” he said on Monday in a telephone call from Lviv, Ukraine.

“The response was not a yes or no, and depending upon the time required for government to accept our offer, we may or may not progress with this opportunity. As we have said since arriving in Nova Scotia in early January, the supply chain is critical to this investment and the reason we are willing to invest. If too much time passes and the forestry supply chain deteriorates to a certain point, then it may become too late for us to help. In that case, regretfully, we would continue to focus on other projects elsewhere in Canada.”

He believes the time is right because of the closure of Northern Pulp which, he said, has created a void in the forestry supply chain, “in particular for the sawmills in the province who previously sold their chips, sawdust and shavings to the pulp mill, not to mention the support service providers who delivered that material.”

Spinks said he has put the word out to fiber suppliers that subject to relevant approvals being received, RMDE intends to build the facility. So far, in principle, “a number of companies previously disposing of their waste at Northern Pulp are onboard.” He was disheartened that he has not received word from all of the suppliers — “particularly as they have few options, and likely none which can afford to pay the price that RMDE is offering and still manage to operate for the long term.”

He noted: “We’re not coming to take advantage of others’ misfortunes. We are prepared to invest $84 million (CDN) in the plant. We are not fishing for taxpayer’s money for loans or subsidies and we are offering to pay the price for the waste fibre agreed with those needing the outlet over the past month, something others will not be able to achieve and certainly are not paying right now.”

He has been pleased with reaction he has received from government, the Pictou County Chamber, Trenton leadership and some of the larger, experienced, woodlot owners, with whom he has spoken to explain the reality behind the project.

“So far, from those who have spoken with me and who now know what we are proposing, the reaction has been very pro-active and supportive, where initially they were worried following misinformed comments from a number of uninformed sources including those whose environmental values we share.” He is feeling encouraged at where he is in the process.

“I am 90 per cent confident.” That said, Spinks stressed that while he and his partners are willing to support companies and families affected by Northern Pulp’s closure, it is time for them to decide who will and who will not be selling their sawmill waste to the new processing plant, should it come online.

Spinks said his business proposal can only take into account all of the waste being offered by suppliers who have responded and confirmed conditional supply to him. “RMDE must size and plan according to the commitments received over the coming days and weeks. But once we’ve finalized our capacity, and once we are up and running, we won’t be able to accommodate those who weren’t originally planned for at this stage. We are welcoming everyone; we came here to help in a crisis; I don’t want to exclude anyone by their silence, but once built, the facility will have a finite scale and it is much smaller than the old pulp mill was.”

Spinks said the plant, depending on the final confirmed waste fibre agreed with forestry stakeholders, could produce up to 500,000 metric tonnes of the CoalSwitch second generation biofuel product per year, for sale to existing off-take customers in Europe or for use elsewhere.