By Kevin J. Sabo For the Independent
The Stettler region will soon be home to a new multi-million-dollar business.
Councils from the Town of Stettler, the County of Stettler and representatives from the company made the announcement during a joint meeting on July 15th.
The business in question coming to the region is Great Plains MDF Production Inc. which will be building a $750 million straw fibre MDF board plant on a half-section of land near the airport.
According to the press release, the plant will be, “An ideally situated half section adjacent to rail, roads, power and water supply.”
When operational, the plant will feature a “1,000,000 square foot main factory which will house 70m and 40m continuous press lines.”
Touted as the world’s largest Medium-Density-Fibre-Board (MDF) plant once completed, the facility will produce 500 million sq. ft. of ¾” product per year.
Also, 2,500 metric-tonnes of straw-fibre will be needed per day to produce the MDF at peak capacity, totaling 900,000 metric tonnes annually.
Because the facility will use straw-fibre and not wood, “Millions of trees are left standing rather than being cut down for the growing MDF demand.”
Unlike traditional MDF manufacturing using wood, the Great Plains MDF plant will produce the MDF using straw.
Unlike the wood, which is a renewable source requiring 25 to 40 years to mature and be usable for manufacturing, straw can be grown annually.
Additionally, according to information provided by Great Plains MDF, MDF produced out of straw is 14 per cent lighter than that produced with wood and requires less resin and other additives to produce the product.
As part of the construction, six or eight straw storage depots will be constructed around 110 km away from the plant, as well as a larger storage facility closer to Stettler to ensure the facility retains access to needed materials.
This will be done, “To ensure AG producers from a very large area can contract straw sales to us on a rotation cycle that works for their soil type and capacity,” according to the press release.
It is estimated that the production of the plant will generate 600 direct jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs during the construction phase, and 1,000 permanent direct jobs and 2,400 indirect jobs once completed.
Over $100 million per year in local supplier contracts will be available annually, plus up to two million large square straw bales purchased and transported.
Prior to construction, the project needs to go through three or four months of public and regulatory approvals.
Once the approvals are in place, it is estimated that the plant will begin producing MDF within 20 months.