For Canadian producer Shaw Resources, 2015 marks two decades of pellet production in Nova Scotia. In 1995 the first “Eastern Embers” pellets came off the production line. Today the company operates two wood pellet plants in Atlantic Canada making it one of the more seasoned Maritime manufacturers.
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Covering an area of 5.5 million ha, Nova Scotia is the second smallest province in Canada. Home to around 943 000 inhabitants, almost 70 percent of the land is privately owned, a high proportion relative to the rest of Canada. Forests account for around 4.2 million ha of the land area of which 53 percent are privately owned with the remainder under public (Crown) ownership. Nova Scotia’s forests contain 35 percent hardwood species and 65 percent softwood species by standing volume. In 2013 the province issued a draft directive to restrict biomass harvested from Crown land for renewable energy projects to stem-wood only. Other eligible biomass sources include milling residues such as sawdust, bark and slab wood and lumber wastes from construction.
Industrial minerals and wood pellets
Shaw Resources was founded in 1966 when the parent company, Shaw Group Ltd, acquired Nova Scotia Sand & Gravel. Shaw Resources extracts, processes and markets industrial minerals at a number of locations in the Maritime provinces for commercial, industrial and retail markets in eastern Canada and north-eastern US. In 1995 the first “Eastern Embers” pellets came off the production line from a new business venture for Shaw Resources. Acting on employee initiative to enter the wood pellet industry, the facility was built by Shaw Resources on a site close to an existing sand and gravel plant operated by the company.
It proved a prudent move as two decades on the facility is still in operation. Today the company operates two wood pellet plants in Atlantic Canada; the 45 000 tonne-per-annum Eastern Embers facility located in the aptly named Hardwood Lands, Nova Scotia and a 75 000 tonne per annum plant in Belledue, New Brunswick. Both plants utilise residues such as sawdust and shavings sourced from sawmills to produce bagged pellets primarily for the residential heating markets under the brand name Eastern Embers in the local Atlantic Canadian region, North Eastern USA, and Europe. Industrial pellets for bulk shipment are also produced at both facilities. Although located in Hardwood Land, the Eastern Embers facility uses softwood residues only, predominately spruce. The facility also produces bagged bedding product for North American and European markets. In addition, bulk pellets are shipped to a growing local industrial market and occasionally find their way to Europe through the Port of Halifax.
Twenty years of business shows just how much ”cents” that choice by Shaw Resources to produce pellets makes.