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Irving Plans $1.1B Upgrade for Saint John Pulp and Paper Mill

Significant changes are on the horizon for one of Saint John, N.B.’s major employers. Irving Pulp & Paper, Ltd. has unveiled plans for a $1.1 billion upgrade to its Saint John mill, including the installation of a new recovery boiler. This modernization aims to increase production by approximately 66%, replacing the current boiler that dates back to the 1970s.

“These upgrades will ensure Saint John’s pulp mill remains a central part of the province’s forest products supply chain, providing a market for chips, bark, and pulpwood,” said Mark Mosher, vice president of Irving Pulp & Paper, in a press release.

The project will also introduce several environmental enhancements, such as a new turbine and green energy generator, which will aid in decarbonizing New Brunswick’s electrical grid. Additionally, advancements will include water reuse technologies to reduce the mill’s water intake and cut down its carbon dioxide emissions.

During the proposed four-year construction period, the project is expected to generate over $172 million in tax revenue for provincial and municipal governments, boost the GDP by $711 million, and create numerous opportunities for local contractors.

A rendering shows what the upgraded Irving Pulp & Paper mill could look like if plans proceed. (Source: Irving Pulp & Paper)

In the long term, Irving anticipates the improvements will add 600 jobs within the forest supply chain, increase employment income by 38%, and generate $10 million annually in provincial and local tax revenues.

The project will be entirely funded by Irving Pulp & Paper, Ltd., as outlined in an environmental impact study conducted by Fundy Engineering & Consulting Ltd.

Beyond the mill upgrades, J.D. Irving, Ltd. is proposing a new wood chip production facility at Bald Mountain Quarry, also located on the city’s west side. This facility aims to reduce carbon emissions and delivery costs. The chipper will be housed in a noise-reducing building to minimize dust, and an existing private road will be used to avoid additional public road use during transport.

JDI Irving plans to hold an open house to provide more information and address public questions about both projects.

Councillor Excited by Investment

Saint John City Councillor Greg Norton views this investment as a generational opportunity, noting, “We are excited to see the adaptations making this mill more efficient. While others are becoming obsolete, this mill is thriving.”

Norton believes the upgrades will decarbonize both the provincial grid and the local economy, reduce noise pollution, and boost the local economy. A traffic study has been conducted to assess the impact, with potential measures like adding gates at the Simms Corner railway crossing to reduce train noise.

Residents on the west side are already accustomed to construction disruptions due to ongoing work on the Harbour Bridge. Norton asks for their continued patience, emphasizing that JDI’s investments will ultimately improve the mill and the community.

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