Reopening plan for P.A. pulp mill continues apace

The plan to reopen the long-shuttered pulp mill in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is inching ever-closer to completion.

Earlier this week, Paper Excellence — the B.C.-based company that now owns the mill — announced it has submitted its environmental impact statement (EIS) to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.

Carlo Dal Monte, project operations director for the pulp mill restart, called it "a critical step forward for the project."

If the statement is successfully reviewed, the mill hopes to get the environmental permits it needs to reopen.

Earlier this year, Paper Excellence did a survey about reopening the mill, which has been dormant since 2006. The survey found 93 per cent of Saskatchewan respondents hoped to see it open again.

“We are very encouraged by the enthusiasm that we have encountered in the process up to this point, and we were happy to see that confirmed in recent polling,” Dal Monte said.

As of 2021, a spokesperson for Paper Excellence estimated that a "best-case scenario" could see the mill open for business again by the summer of 2023.

About 700 people lost their jobs when the mill's former owner, Weyerhaeuser Company, shuttered it in April 2006.

Paper Excellence acquired the mill in 2011.

In 2021, Paper Excellence said it had already invested more than $600,000 in engineering and consulting work focused on restarting the mill, and that it hoped to eventually employ 200 people and create more than $300 million in annual economic benefits for Saskatchewan.

A representative from Paper Excellence was not available to comment on the current timeline to reopen the mill, or how much has been invested in the reopening since 2021.

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix