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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

August/September 2015

On the Cover:
Tolko’s Lavington, B.C. sawmill has recently seen a major upgrade that positions the operation well as lumber markets move in a healthy direction, with increased lumber demand, both in North America, and overseas. Read about the major improvements at the Lavington mill beginning on page 14 (Photo of Tolko mill by Paul MacDonald).

Learning from others
Canada’s forest industry will have to implement various approaches to attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce—and it can learn from other industries and companies, from Apple to Telus, on how to do this.

Re-start for Resolute sawmill
Resolute Forest Products recently re-started its Ignace, Ontario sawmill, having invested $10 million on improvements, with a strong focus on the infeed area so that the mill can now receive cut-to-length logs exclusively.

New headrig and optimization improvements for Tolko Lavington
Tolko Industries’ Lavington, B.C. sawmill has undergone a significant upgrade—involving installing a new headrig from Salem Equipment and associated controls from USNR—that has delivered a solid improvement in recovery.

Rain Forest Sawmill … in the rainforest
Dale Crumback has recently moved from sawyer to company owner at B.C.’s Rain Forest Sawmill, and things are hopping these days with a wide range of customers looking for a variety of wood produced from their biodiesel-powered Wood-Mizer LT 70 sawmill.

Logging ‘n lobsters
New Brunswick logging contractor Drew Conley juggles running a logging operation—with most of the wood going across the line, to Maine—with helping out in the family fishing outfit, catching lobster.

Resolute’s wood pellets now generating power for Ontario
Resolute Forest Products recently completed construction of a $9 million wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay to supply Ontario Power Generation’s power plant in Atikokan with wood pellets as a fuel substitute.

Busy woodlot a welcome sign
One of the primary motivations in establishing the CVWPA woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets.

Fearless Contracting: not afraid of diversifying
Vancouver Island’s Fearless Contracting is finding the best business approach is diversification, and as part of that, it is increasingly doing logging work on B.C. Timber Sales, for other larger logging contractors, and for log brokers on the Island.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
With the federal election coming up, Jim Stirling says there may be a mood shift underway with voters, which could yield some surprising results.

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Resolute’s wood pellets Resolute’s wood pellets now generating power for Ontario

Two Andritz 400 horsepower pelletizers are the backbone of Resolute’s wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay. Maxime Langlais (below, left), Resolute Pellet Mill general manager, says the Thunder Bay facility is the first one built by Resolute in Canada and is a test case to see if it makes economic sense for the company to build more plants.

Resolute Forest Products recently completed construction of a $9 million wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay to supply Ontario Power Generation’s power plant in Atikokan with wood pellets as a fuel substitute.

By Tony Kryzanowski

Maxime LanglaisTwo Andritz 400 horsepower pelletizers are the backbone of Resolute’s wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay. Maxime Langlais (left), Resolute Pellet Mill general manager, says the Thunder Bay facility is the first one built by Resolute in Canada and is a test case to see if it makes economic sense for the company to build more plants.

Ontario’s environmentally-motivated policy to phase out coal-fired power generation is proving to be a boon for the province’s forest industry. Resolute Forest Products recently completed construction of a $9 million wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay to supply Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) power plant in nearby Atikokan with wood pellets as a fuel substitute.

Resolute has a 10-year agreement to supply OPG with 45,000 tonnes annually for the power plant, located two hours west of Thunder Bay.

By using an almost exclusive diet of green softwood sawdust collected from its dimension lumber sawmill located under the same roof as the wood pellet plant, Resolute is now producing a valuable commodity from a waste product that previously was used for fuel at the company’s nearby paper mill.

Maxime Langlais, Resolute Thunder Bay sawmill manager, says the pellet plant attached to the company’s dimension lumber sawmill is the first one constructed by Resolute in Canada. He adds that it began supplying OPG with wood pellets in October 2014. It represents both a test case and a learning experience for the company. Resolute is carefully monitoring the entire operation from both a business case and manufacturing performance standpoint.

Langlais says that the company’s sawmill employees were given first opportunity to train for the 10 new jobs created by the pellet plant, and there was huge interest with many job applicants. Staff received training on how to produce a consistent supply of wood pellets with calorific value, durability, density and moisture content within what he described as a tight tolerance range required by OPG for its wood pellets.

Resolute’s wood pellets now generating power for OntarioAbout 200 tonnes per week of wood shavings from the company's planer mill is now being added to the sawdust for pellet production to ensure that Resolute has enough raw material to maintain its supply commitment to OPG. Langlais says that Resolute tested this new recipe extensively and it meets OPG’s standards.

“It’s nearly just-in-time wood pellet production because within maybe an hour-and-a-half of the sawdust being created on the saw line, it is transported here for conversion to wood pellets,” he says. The sawdust and wood chips from the saw line are collected on one conveyor belt, with the sawdust separated from the wood chips through a shaker. The wood chips are collected and transported to Resolute’s adjacent pulp mill, while the sawdust is conveyed to the pellet plant.

Langlais says that there was quite a lot to learn about producing consistent pellets. The end quality can change significantly depending on the time of year that the logs are processed through the sawmill, as moisture content varies and the temperature at which the logs are processed in winter versus the summer is also different. It took some experimentation to find the right heads for their Andritz pelletizers so that they would produce consistent pellets no matter what time of year the sawdust and shavings are collected. The wood pellets are tested in-house, as well as weekly by a third party, and by OPG on a regular basis to ensure that the product manufactured by Resolute meets OPG’s specifications. The pellet plant is doing well at meeting OPG’s requirements, but Langlais says they expect that it will take a couple of years of fine tuning, based upon the wood supply entering the mill at various times of the year, to feel completely comfortable about producing a consistent end product.

Resolute Forest Products Resolute Forest Products spent $9 million building a wood pellet plant to supply Ontario Power Generation with 45,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually. It has a 10 year contract with OPG.

Construction of the pellet plant started in May 2014 and was completed four months later using Resolute’s own engineers and labor force. The sawdust and wood shavings are collected in storage bins near the pellet plant.

To manufacture the wood pellets, the raw material first encounters a dryer supplied by TSI Inc. which is equipped with a Wellons 30 million BTU burner to dry the wood material down to 4.5 percent moisture content. Langlais says that moisture content is one of the critical factors to produce quality wood pellets. The raw material is then processed into wood pellets in one of two Andritz, 400 horsepower pelletizers capable of producing between four and five metric tonnes of wood pellets per hour. The pellets are cooled in an Andritz/LMX cooler, and then placed in short-term storage in one of three bins.

The wood pellets are shipped in bulk by truck using an OPG contractor. OPG has two wood pellet suppliers for its power plant in Atikokan, Resolute and Rentech, each supplying 45,000 tonnes.

Langlais says that given the cost of harvesting and transporting wood from the bush, Resolute aims for utilization of all its wood fibre, with the wood pellet plant being one more example of a wood residue finding a new home while creating a new revenue source for the company.