Mercer Celgar is celebrating its 60th anniversary in operation this year.
The company released a statement in November reflecting on its history and journey. It remains focussed on facing the challenges in the sector and working hard on building a more sustainable and positive economic future – for Castlegar, its surrounding communities, and the families that live within them.
Recounting its journey, the statement noted that the Celgar mill has been a major employer in Castlegar and the West Kootenay region since 1961. It was the first pulp and paper mill in the interior of B.C. Employing 3000 people during its construction phase, it opened in 1961 with 300 permanent employees.
The team at the mill established the Canadian Pulp and Paper Workers Union in 1963, the predecessor of Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) that represents the mill’s workers today.
In 1993, $850 million was invested to revamp and modernize the mill into a producer of high-quality pulp with modern power generation and environmental treatment facilities. The project significantly increased the mill’s production capabilities to 430,000 tonnes annually.
Mercer International acquired the Celgar mill in February 2005. Since then, Mercer has invested heavily in capital improvement projects to increase the mill’s production capabilities, improve environmental performance, and introduce the ability to harvest bioextractives such as turpentine.
The mill currently produces approximately 500,000 tonnes of Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulp (NBSK). This process produces enough eco-certified green energy to supply the mill’s own needs, plus the needs of up to an additional 20,000 homes. The power generated at the mill meets the renewable low impact electricity products standards, which allows the company to sell its power with the certified Eco-Logo.
The company also stated that it is always on the lookout for new ways to build a more competitive, sustainable company that will succeed long into the future.
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