Active Energy Group, a London-based company, announced Tuesday morning it has reached an agreement in principle with the provincial government for a lease which would cover all of forestry management districts 17 and 18 — totalling 1.2 million hectares of land.
Spinks said the plan is to work with affiliated company Advanced Biomass Solutions to manufacture wood pellets as part of their “CoalSwitch” product — a form of biofuel which is designed to replace coal at existing power plants with no retrofitting.
“We’re going to produce the full value-chain in the province, on the peninsula, and capture the value there and the jobs there,” he said.
“There’s going to be a pellet plant on the peninsula that we’ll be operating at full capacity with some considerable investment. And also, there’s going to be a new investment in forestry techniques and equipment with local stakeholders who are currently traditional loggers in the region.”
There’s already a pellet plant on the Northern Peninsula at Roddickton, which received millions of dollars in government financing but never got off the ground. Spinks wouldn’t say whether the Roddickton plant fits into Active Energy Group’s plan.
“I mean, we’re more than prepared to build our own plant from scratch, but we may consider other options, if they present themselves,” he said.
Forestry and Agrifoods Agency Minister Steve Crocker was not immediately available for comment.
Spinks said the plant itself will employ 56 people, with some more anticipated employment at the harbour in St. Anthony, bringing the total to about 70 people.
He said he plans on travelling to Newfoundland in early June, and will present his plan to the provincial government cabinet seeking final approval.
He wouldn’t say how much Active Energy Group will be paying for the 20-year forestry management agreement, because it’s still a matter of negotiation.
“The most important thing for us is that we have found the government in your province to be extremely positive about investment and about finding employment for the province, and I don’t find that everywhere I go,” he said.