In a landmark partnership, the Pic River First Nation (Ojibway) is joining with Rentech, a Los Angeles–based firm, in a project that will use forest waste and unusable wood fiber to produce clean-burning jet fuel, the company announced in May. The plant would be the first commercial-scale facility of its kind to produce certified renewable jet fuel from wood fiber.
Rentech will build a plant in White River, Ontario, to produce 23 million gallons of fuel annually, plus 13 million gallons of renewable naphtha, a chemical feedstock, said Biofuels Digest. The company will accomplish this with 1.1 million cubic meters annually of wood fiber.
Investment could total $500 million and create 400 jobs in the long term, the Canadian Press reported. White River was the ideal site for the plant, Rentech said, because it has existing facilities that include infrastructure from a mill, as well as access to water, power and rail lines.
Rentech has also proposed building a plant that converts forest biomass into clean, renewable electricity. The Olympiad Liquid Fuels Plant would produce 40 megawatts annually.
“Communities such as Pic River and White River that have withstood the industry shift from traditional pulp, paper and sawmills to new uses for Ontario’s forests now have a renewed sense of hope,” said Chief Roy Michano of Pic River First Nation. “We are pleased with our partnership with Rentech, a very forward-thinking company that has embraced First Nations as an integral part of such an ambitious project.”
Pic River First Nation will get an 18 percent equity interest in the venture, Biofuels Digest said.
“The Pic River partnership is expected to create significant opportunities for the aboriginal community through job creation and advanced skills training,” Biofuels Digest said. “Other aboriginal communities, such as the Pic Mobert First Nation, will benefit from regional opportunities as well.”
Rentech President and Chief Executive Officer D. Hunt Ramsbottom hailed the unique partnerships involved.
“Look at this—you have Crown support, First Nations and provincial support, all coming together,” Ramsbottom told Biofuels Digest. “We’ve worked far longer in the U.S. to bring projects forward; the Canadians have provided vision, organization and results in far less time. They’ve shown everyone how you get this done.”
The announcement was made at a joint press conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Participants included Michano; Chief Johanna Desmoulin of Pic Mobert First Nation; Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle; Mike Brown and David Orazietti, members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament; Ramsbottom; and White River Mayor Angelo Bazzoni.
The refinery could be up and running by the end of 2015, Rentech said.