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Irving Pulp & Paper plans $1.1 billion upgrade to Saint John mill

Major investment to boost production capacity, enhance green energy output, and improve environmental performance

Irving Pulp & Paper Limited has announced plans for a significant upgrade to its Saint John’s westside pulp mill, involving a long-term capital improvement project named NextGen. The proposed $1.1 billion investment aims to enhance the mill’s capacity and boost green energy production, positioning it as one of the leading kraft pulp mills globally with exceptional environmental performance.

The company has submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to New Brunswick’s Department of Environment to initiate the project. Irving Pulp & Paper vice president Mark Mosher highlighted the importance of the upgrades, stating: “These upgrades will ensure Saint John’s pulp mill continues to be at the heart of the province’s forest products supply chain, and provides a regional market for chips, bark, and pulpwood”.

Central to the project is the construction of a new recovery boiler to replace the outdated 1970s-era boiler. This upgrade is expected to increase production by approximately 66% and introduce several environmental improvements, including:

  • A new turbine and green energy generator aimed at decarbonizing New Brunswick’s electrical grid;
  • Technological advancements to reuse water and reduce the mill’s water consumption;
  • Decommissioning an oil-fired boiler to cut the mill’s CO2 emissions.

During the four-year construction phase, the investment is projected to:

  • Generate over $172 million in tax revenue for provincial and local governments;
  • Create $539 million in employment income and more than 2,200 person-years of employment;
  • Boost provincial GDP by $711 million;
  • Generate $409 million in household spending and provide opportunities for hundreds of local contractors.

This investment follows previous major capital projects at the mill, including a $150-million Environmental Treatment Facility and a $500-million modernization plan announced in 2014, which included the construction of a new chip handling system, digester, and pulp dryer.

In addition to the mill upgrade, J.D. Irving Limited is proposing a new wood chip production facility at the Bald Mountain Rock Quarry site in west Saint John. This facility, subject to a separate EIA, will repurpose part of the quarry property, which will transition from quarry operations to wood chip production. The project aims to reduce carbon emissions and delivery costs through more efficient chip transportation, with plans to refurbish and extend the site’s rail capabilities for pulpwood deliveries.

An open house will be held to provide information to nearby residents about both projects.

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