The Stettler region will soon be home to a new multi-million-dollar business.
At a joint meeting of both Stettler town and county council’s on July 15, they along with representatives from Great Plains MDF Production Inc. announced the construction of a $750 million straw fibre MDF board plant on a half-section of land near the airport.
According to a press release, the plant will be “an ideally situated half section adjacent to rail, roads, power and water supply.”
When operational, the plant will feature a main factory space on one million square feet, which will house two continuous press lines — a 70-metre and a 40-metre.
Great Plains is touting the facility at the world’s largest Medium-Density-Fibre (MDF) board plant.
Once completed, it is estimated it will produce 500 million square feet of three-quarter inch fibre board annually.
A total of 2500 tonnes of straw-fibre will be needed daily to produce the MDF at peak capacity, totaling 900,000 tonnes annually. Because the facility will use straw-fibre and not wood, “millions of trees are left standing rather than being cut down for the growing MDF demand,” said the release.
Unlike traditional wood-manufactured MDF, this facility will produce the MDF using straw.
Unlike the wood, which is a renewable source requiring 25 to 40 years to mature and be usable, straw can be grown annually and produced an MDF product which is 14 per cent lighter than that produced with wood. It also requires less resin and other additives to produce.
In conjuction with the construction of the plant, Great Plains is looking to build six or eight straw storage depots within a radius of 110 kilometres of the plant along with a larger storage facility closer to Stettler to ensure the plant can maintain access to needed materials.
This will be done, according to the release, “to ensure ag producers from a very large area can contract straw sales to us on a rotation cycle that works for their soil type and capacity.”
It is estimated that the plant will generate 600 direct and 1,800 indirect jobs during construction.
After completion, the plant anticipates employing 1,000 permanent jobs while creating another 2,400 indirect jobs
The company will also make available more than $100 million annually in local supplier contracts, plus purchase up to two million large square straw bales.
The project will now proceed through a process of public hearing and regulatory approvals, expected to take upwards of four months to complete.
Once the approvals are in place, it is estimated that the plant will begin producing MDF within 20 months.