StettlerLocal.com January 20, 2021 @1:41pm
Great Plains President and Chairman of the Board, Brian McLeod, recently announced that the fibreboard (MDF) plant won’t be built in Stettler but is going ahead in the Central Alberta Region in 2021. The company is now looking at a site location in Kneehill County with confidential negotiations completed, and the new site to be announced within approximately a week.
After discussions were held with the Town of Stettler and County of Stettler, the decision was made not to proceed with the Stetter County location based on the necessary amount of water the plant will draw everyday and the traffic flow issues the plant could create.
“The main issue as we dug further into the supply of wheat straw, we discovered that greater volumes of wheat straw laid in the south of Stettler than in and around /surrounding Stettler and all of a sudden we’d be hauling wheat straw some extremely long distances in some cases to get to the mill. That hurts your operating costs. We had concerns about traffic flow, and it looked like we’d be hauling in 110 truckloads of straw a day and an awful lot of that would be going down mainstreet (in Stettler).” - Brian McLeod, President and Chairman
The company exhausted many avenues to find a location but based on some assessments, the decision was made to look outside Stettler County. The good news is that they hope to procure excess wheat straw from a lot of farmers including those in Stettler County and beyond.
“Hopefully, the plant consumes a lot of wheat straw so anyone in the county who’s producing wheat and wants to sell their straw, we’d be delighted to buy it off them.” Brian McLeod, President and Chairman
An online survey was created for local farmers that are located within 125 km of the new plant to be built in Kneehill County. Great Plains is looking for up to 100 plus farmers to supply their post-harvest straw in the first year of operation in 2022.
Great Plains is a green, start-up manufacturing company, and starting-up during the pandemic has had it’s challenges. The company uses a renewable agricultural waste product and turns into a resource. It is a sustainable product that saves trees, reduces greenhouse gases (GHG). Over a 20-year span, this would equate to a reduction of 42 million tonnes of GHG and preserving up to 220,000 acres of forests or building 10,000 windmills.
An MDF mill has several requirements including natural gas, power, and a rail line to transport resin for MDF manufacturing and the same line to ship out the finished product. The plant will be built on a 500-acre site for transporting and storing the straw to produce the MDF. It will be the one of the largest MDF facilities in the world.
The plant will be the first straw based MDF production facility in Canada and only the second in North America. Great Plains has partnered with PCL Construction, and it’s expected that approximately 350 direct jobs and up to 1,000 indirect jobs will be generated for Alberta’s economy.
For more information on Great Plains MDF, visit https://greatplainsmdf.com/.
Jody Craig, Reporter