Mercer Peace River’s woodroom now boasts one of the world’s largest debarkers. It’s part of recently completed renovations meant to change the facility’s hardwood fibre procurement process and end its use of diesel wood chippers on aspen trees.
Currently, the company uses portable chippers to debark and chip aspen trees in the forest or remote satellite yards, which are then delivered to the facility to be processed. Under the new process, the logs will be cut to length, transported to the mill, and then debarked and chipped on-site.
When first announced, Mercer said it expected the change would mean 500,000 fewer trees needed annually to meet pulp production goals. Director of Mill Operations Joe Fawcett says the goal is to improve efficiency as well as reduce fossil fuel emissions.
“The bush chippers served us well through the years but the quality varied, so the fact that this wood will go directly through the woodroom is something that everybody in the mill is happy about and looking forward to.”
As part of the changes, Mercer has also created a new venture called Peace River Transport. Fawcett says the renos and addition mean more job opportunities.
“To run the woodroom, we are looking at about 24 positions, so about six people per shift of new hires on-site, and also hiring truck drivers for the Peace River Transport.”
The fibre procurement project took two years to complete. It was originally planned for completion in May 2022.