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DMI — Peace River Pulp Division


April 1, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

This month, we return to the west, and travel up Highway 12 in northwestern Alberta to a town located on the Peace and Smoky Rivers. Promoted locally as the place “where hospitality comes first,” P…

This month, we return to the west, and travel up Highway 12 in northwestern Alberta to a town located on the Peace and Smoky Rivers. Promoted locally as the place “where hospitality comes first,” Peace River’s strategic location as a gateway to northern Alberta has always played a significant role in the area’s growth. Situated in the midst of Alberta’s vast boreal forest, the region is considered to be one of Canada’s ecologically diverse areas. It is home to conifer trees such as spruce, pine and fir, as well as deciduous trees such as birch, poplar and aspen. It was to this area that Tim Lanteigne, mill manager at Peace River Pulp Division, first arrived in 1990.

Born in northern Ontario and growing up in rural New Brunswick, Tim Lanteigne, now 38 years old, was never really far from a pulp and paper mill. His interest, however, flourished when he moved to Peace River to work at Daishowa-Marubeni International (DMI) Peace River Division.

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He embraced both the community and the work place. Being an avid hockey player during the winter and a golfer in the summer, Lanteigne is more than comfortable with his surroundings. Insiders also say that he has recently taken up snowboarding with his 13 year-old son, Taylor.

As a power engineer from the east and starting as a steam plant operator at the mill, Tim Lanteigne was there from the beginning when the Peace River pulp mill opened in 1990, with a capital investment of $580 million. “To be a part of an operation as it is being built gave me a true understanding of what makes this mill tick,” he said.

Through the years, Lanteigne held a variety of leadership positions, such as steam & utilities superintendent, human resources manager and production business unit leader.

On January 4, 2006, Mark Kobayashi, president of DMI, announced the appointment of Tim Lanteigne to the position of mill manager for the firm’s Peace River Pulp Division. With this appointment, Lanteigne was mandated to lead, direct and set the priorities for all aspects of the Peace River Pulp Division (PRPD), including mill and forestry operations.

“I was initially apprehensive about the appointment,” said Lanteigne, “but I realized that there was no greater place to take on this challenge than where I am presently. I have built strong relationships with people, both in the community and especially within the mill.” After a moment’s reflection, he added, “When I think of Peace River Pulp, I don’t see a physical asset but the faces of passionate, dedicated and committed team members with wonderful skills whom I enjoy working with. Although we have achieved incredible milestones, it is our people who give us our competitive advantage.”

Bill Downing, recovery/recaust department business leader explained, “Tim has worked his way up and held many important positions here, and it is fitting to see someone who understands our culture be promoted.” The opinion was seconded by Mike Tookey, fibreline department business leader, saying, “Tim has always been a ‘people’ kind of person, which makes him the perfect mill manager.” Tookey added, “He has a competitive nature in and out of the workplace, so whether on the hockey ice rink (his hobby) or here at the mill, he is always looking to do better. This motivates all of us to continually improve.”

Commenting on his own management style, Lanteigne uses simply one word, ‘participatory.’ “I like going out on the floor, and no matter how busy I am, I will always make the time to connect with the people. We have a workforce that is non-unionized, very flexible, relatively young and we collectively form a unit that is primed for success.” On the issue of future technological improvements, Lanteigne explained, “The major technological advancement since start-up has been changing our dual vessel hydraulic Kamyr digester system from MCC upflow to downflow low solids. We have seen numerous benefits from this, including a production increase of 100Adt/day hardwood, moving our bottleneck to the recovery boiler for both species.”

Historical perspective

DMI was formed in 1969 when Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company and the Marubeni Corporation joined with Weldwood of Canada to form the joint venture named Cariboo Pulp and Paper Company. Located in the interior of British Columbia, production began a short three years later. Cariboo is a high quality kraft pulp mill known for its bleached softwood kraft pulp. The operation, along with its mill manager, Brian Grantham, was featured in the February 2005 (p21) issue of Pulp & Paper Canada. As an integrated forest products company, DMI is one of the top pulp producers in North America. The firm employs approximately 600 people in British Columbia and Alberta, and maintains business operations, with an additional 600 woodlands, log and chip haul contractors. DMI manages 2.9 million hectares of timberlands, through a Forest Management Agreement, with the province of Alberta. This supplies most of the fibre requirements for the mill at Peace River. In addition, DMI has a Deciduous Timber Allocation tenure on an additional five million hectares. The firm manages these lands on a sustainable basis for commercial harvest, reforestation, wildlife habitat, economic diversity, and other non-timber values. PRPD is also particularly proud of its ISO 14001, and FORESTCARE certifications.

FORESTCARE is a code of ethics program initiated by the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) to demonstrate stewardship of the forest, the environment, and the community. AFPA members wanted to ensure that the management of Alberta’s forest industry is continually improving. Through independent audits, all aspects of PRPD’s performance were reviewed. During the course of 1996 and 1997, each of DMI’s Alberta Operations painstakingly prepared for, underwent and passed FORESTCARE audits of their mill and woodlands operations. In November 1999, DMI’s Peace River Pulp Division completed their second FORESTCARE audit and was re-certified.

History of Peace River

On his epic journey to the Pacific coast in 1792, Alexander Mackenzie established Fort Fork on the south bank of the Peace River. The Fort was located just upstream of the confluence of the Peace and Smoky Rivers. This strategic location eventually gave birth to the town of Peace River a century later. Initially, missionaries were the first settlers, who were sent to introduce the Native peoples to Christianity. As agriculture began to flourish, so did river transportation. Between the years 1910 and 1916, railway lines were extended north from Edmonton. With these rail connections came an influx of settlers who had interest in harvesting the area’s natural richness of trees and oil. The town site of Peace River was first surveyed in 1909 and became the village of Peace River Crossing on June 2, 1914. Two years later, the name was logically shortened to simply, Peace River. It was incorporated on December 1, 1919. The years immediately following 1926 saw a further population increase, as the Great Depression robbed many livelihoods in Saskatchewan and southern Alberta. The abundance of natural resources maintains a steady continuing growth for Peace River to this day.

PRPD has been committed to being a good corporate citizen in terms of supporting the community from the start, and Lanteigne said it best, “This is the place we call home.” While figures vary from year to year, wages paid to area residents can exceed $25 million, materials can exceed $60 million and utilities in excess of $14 million. Since it first arrived to the community, the company has also supported a variety of initiatives relating to community groups, especially youth. PRPD sponsors a scholarship program, as well as a unique Forest Educators outreach program that allows students to explore the diversity of the boreal forest. “The interest of local young people in the industry is very important to us, for we are always looking for the next generation of skilled labour. We have been very fortun
ate to this point attracting great employees and retaining our greatest asset, our people,” added Lanteigne.

The mill

Situated 16 kilometres north of the town of Peace River, and 489 km northwest of Edmonton, the mill employs approximately 290 people. It was the first of Alberta’s new generation of pulp mills. It pioneered the production of hardwood pulp in this region of the province. The mill operation was created not only to have minimal environmental impact, but to also utilize previously uneconomical hardwood timber and residual softwood chips purchased from sawmills in the area. The mill is proud of its minimum staffing and supervision, which it combines with the most advanced technology.

PRPD is a greenfield bleached kraft pulp mill that transforms aspen chips (harvested locally) and white spruce softwood chips (from neighbouring lumber mills) into pulp. This is then sold world-wide to paper producers specializing in high-grade paper. The mill produces 480,000 air-dried metric tonnes (ADMT) of hardwood and softwood bleached kraft pulp annually. The product produced is particularly noted for its quality and brightness. It makes an excellent printing and writing grade of paper, providing bulk and a good writing surface. The product that PRPD produces has a strong reputation for quality.

The new mill manager not only respects the past, but looks to the future of production in different efficient ways. “With new technologies and new ideas of how to do things, we will continue to streamline and become leaner. With the flexible and adaptive workforce here, I look forward positively to the future,” concluded Lanteigne. As one of Canada’s newest mill managers, Tim Lanteigne’s enthusiasm is not only sincere, but infectious.

PRPD Milestones – First Decade

March 1987Alberta and Daishowa announce pulp mill project

February 1988Environmental and license approvals

April 1988Construction begins

September 1989Forest Management Agreement with the province of Alberta is signed

July 1990Start up of mill

December 1993ISO 9001 certification achieved

January 1994Millionth tonne of pulp produced

October 1996FORESTCARE certification attained

June 1998Production record set at 1360 ADTP

November 1998Conversion to 100% elemental chlorine-free pulp

July 1999Forest Management Agreement with provincial government amended and extended till 2009


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