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5 B.C. pulp mills get provincial aid to replace natural gas use

BRITISH COLUMBIA (From news reports) -- B.C.'s latest round of grants from the CleanBC Industry Fund pays for conversion of equipment at five pulp mills to reduce their natural gas use, while most of the rest of the $70 million goes to natural gas production facilities in Northeast B.C. to get them to switch processes to electricity.

Environment Minister George Heyman and Forests Minister Katrine Conroy announced the 2021 round of the fund on Monday. The projects are funded out of carbon tax paid by B.C. industries.

Heyman said Jan. 31 that the three rounds of industry funding reduce B.C.'s total greenhouse gas emissions by six million tonnes, equivalent to taking 130,000 vehicles off the road for 10 years.

Recipients for the 2021 round include Catalyst Paper's plants in Port Alberni and Crofton, two grants for Nanaimo Forest Products' Harmac pulp mill, three grants for Howe Sound Pulp and Paper in Port Mellon, and one each for Mercer Celgar in Castlegar and Skookumchuck Pulp north of Kimberley.

Harmac gets $12 million to upgrade their boiler system and another $617,000 to upgrade its pulp dryer and building heating and ventilation to recover waste heat and reduce natural gas consumption. Catalyst Port Alberni ($323,100) and Skookumchuk ($843,500) get funds to improve their hog wood waste feed equipment to fire their steam boilers. Catalyst Crofton receives $5.85 million to improve efficiency of its black liquor evaporation process, reducing natural gas use for its onsite steam boilers.

Port Mellon's pulp mill gets an upgrade to its biomass boiler ($549,000), equipment to capture bio-methanol from wastewater ($384,000) and upgrades to capture lime kiln dust ($731,250).

Mercer Celgar receives the largest non-petroleum fund of the 2021 round, $5 million for increasing biomass fuel storage at its Castlegar pulp mill.

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