Peat provider identifying needed resources

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Company active in western N.L. continuing to pursue pellet business

Active in Newfoundland since 2007, Peat Resources is still standing strong in the pursuit of a place in the global peat pellet market, with plans to produce the bio-fuel in Newfoundland and Labra­dor.

On Monday, a company statement announced Peat Resources has locked down exploration rights for more than 36,000 hectares in central and western Newfoundland, under 12 separate licences.

The licences allow the company to hunt for locations where watery peat can be sourced.

They cover areas near Botwood and in Stephenville-St. George’s, and the company is planning a detailed evaluation of the properties in 2014.

According to president Peter Telford, Peat Resources has already proven its ability to produce fuel pellets in Newfoundland and Labrador. The pellets are a biomass product, like wood pellets.

Based in Ontario, Peat Resources established a pilot plant for the production of peat pellets in Stephenville in 2009-10.

“We’re at a stage where we’ve done a certain amount of work on the (local) resources,” Telford said Wednesday.

“We’ve established the pilot plant and tested out the technologies that we use for harvesting and processing of the peat into a pellet, so now we’re moving to the stage where we’re assembling more resources, which is what this release is about.”

Using the product from the test plant, the company has been identifying potential markets for a product from Newfoundland and Labrador. Sample pellets have been sent from Stephenville to China, for example, with European countries also a key target.

To date, Peat Resources has operated on private investment and has not applied for public funding for its local pellet enterprise.

“(But) the government was friendly and was encouraging, and that was part of the reason for coming down to Newfoundland, is it was a much more welcoming government than we encountered elsewhere,” Telford said, recalling a meeting with former premier Danny Williams.

Stephenville Mayor Tom O’Brien confirmed the peat pellet company has been active in the community over the years.

“They invested a fair amount of money putting up that new building and the equipment inside,” he said.

As for the potential for the company to bring further benefits to the community, O’Brien continues to keep the faith.

“Sometimes when companies get into these processes, it takes them a while to find adequate markets,” he said.  

Employment with the company has varied over the years, from a handful of people employed through a local contractor, for field evaluations, to six to eight people directly employed at the test plant.

The test plant has a capacity of about 5,000 tonnes of pellets a year. A full-scale facility would be expected to produce about 200,000 tonnes a year, providing an estimated 40 to 50 permanent jobs.

For his part, Telford is taking it one step at a time.

“Peat is not going to be the fuel of choice everywhere. It does require the right economics and the right conditions,” he said.

Organizations: Peat Resources

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Stephenville, Botwood Ontario China

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