An Alberta company that plans to build an $800 million straw-based medium density fibreboard production plant has chosen a site for its facilities.
Great Plains MDF says its new site will be located near Equity, Alta., between Three Hills and Trochu.
The new production complex and straw storage facilities will be housed on three quarter sections of land.
Equity is located about 90 kilometres southeast of Red Deer and 140 km northeast of Calgary.
The company says it has entered into agreements with two local landowners and will take ownership of the land later this year.
“This is a very exciting step forward for our project, our team, and of course central Alberta,” said Brian McLeod, president of Great Plains Innovations.
“This announcement demonstrates our commitment to local farmers and allows us to move forward with the permitting process.”
“The economic impact for our communities in Kneehill County will be so exciting,” added Trochu mayor Barry Kletke.
“Anytime we can get employment opportunities in central Alberta is just great.”
According to Great Plains officials, the project is expected to create at least 350 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs in central Alberta.
Great Plains will now begin seeking permitting approvals with regulators, including the province of Alberta and Kneehill County.
Construction is slated to begin this fall and Great Plains MDF will begin signing wheat straw supply contracts with local growers in 2022.
MDF, or medium density fibreboard, is a manufactured construction material commonly used to build office furniture, cabinets, door panels and flooring products.
It is typically made from wood fibres, but Great Plains says its straw-based panels will offer similar quality and strength, but will be produced at a lower density than wood-based panels.
Because of their lower density, Great Plains’ products will be lighter and less expensive to transport.
The lower density panels will also be easier to work with because of lower tooling costs.
Earlier this year, McLeod said the company was in discussions with a U.S.-based lender that was prepared to provide financing for the project.