By Taylor Fredericks
May 27, 2016 - It took a little longer than expected, but Aurora Wood Pellets Ltd. (AWP) has finally succeeded in securing land for a planned wood pellet mill in Enterprise, Northwest Territories.
By Taylor Fredericks
Per the agreement—which was first announced in November 2015, and closed earlier this month—AWP has purchased 320 hectares of land, or roughly four square kilometers, from the hamlet of Enterprise. The land is located about two kilometres south of the town, and was purchased for an undisclosed sum.
The finalized deal marks the end of a complex and protracted negotiation between the company and the hamlet. It has been nearly six years since the company first began pursuing a site in the region, and they have met many snags and roadblocks along the way.
With all of that now behind him, AWP president Brad Mapes is looking forward to the prospects that lie ahead.
“This project will be really key for our region,” he explains. “We have been suffering in terms of economic growth, similar to the rest of the Canada. There will be a lot of ripple effect through a number of different communities with this project. There’s a lot of value here.”
Mapes believes the new plant could employ as many as 20 new full-time workers initially, but stressed that the number could rise as the mill ramps up production. Ancillary activities such as hauling and transport should also add create new employment opportunities.
“That figure doesn’t include hauling,” he notes. “The hauling will mean quite a bit more.”
Mapes expects the plant to produce between 50,000 and 60,000 tonnes of premium pellets in its first year of operation, with a full-capacity goal of 100,000 tonnes annually. While the company expects most of its product to be transported by truck initially, he noted that they may eventually expand to ship materials south via rail.
In terms of a construction timeline, Mapes believes the project could be up and running by the end of next year.
“We’ll start clearing the land this year,” he says. “By next year we’ll start building the plant. So we should be looking at production by the end of 2017.”
In the future, Mapes hopes that the pellet mill—and the sizable parcel of land it will be situated on—will attract other businesses and strengthen the jobs infrastructure in the community.
“That piece of land is very large. Once we’re up and running, we’ll be looking at opportunities where we can have other businesses operating there, and hopefully adding new jobs to the region.”