Burns Lake plant set to be fully operational this year

Craig Lodge, Pinnacle Pellet Inc. president said the company is making good progress on the construction of the Burns Lake pellet plant located on Hwy. 16, near Hampton's Babine Forest Products.

Pinnacle held a ground breaking ceremony at the site last September in order to officially open the plant and construction has been continuing since this time.

“We made our first pellet on Jan. 27, 2011,” said Lodge who indicated that the plant is only able to process dry feedstock and shavings into pellets at this time.

“We anticipate that before the end of February 2011 we will have installed one of two dryers and by the third week in March we will have installed the second dryer. These dryers will enable us to process wetter feedstock such as sawdust, hog fuel and round wood,” he added.

The feedstock for Pinnacle’s Burns Lake plant will primarily come from Hampton’s Decker Lake Forest Products and Babine Forest Products.

Lodge said to Lakes District News that the plant is being started up in stages as various parts of construction are completed.

Currently the plant is using two of the eight pellet machines that are in place.

“By the third week in March we will be utilizing all eight pellet machines,” Lodge said.

He went on to say that once all eight pellet machines are operation the plant will be producing 300,000 oven dried tonnes of pellets per year.

The pellets will then be transported from the site by rail to the west coast, bound for an Asian and Western European customer base.

Lodge said that during the peak construction phase approximately 80 to 100 people were employed at the site.

“Once the plant is finished and the construction crews leave there will be 25 plus full time equivalent employees working at the Burns Lake plant site,” Lodge said adding that there are also indirect jobs created. “There are indirect jobs in transportation, logistics and logging activities such as producing round wood, there will be 50 plus indirect jobs created.”

Pinnacle Pellet Inc. is the longest established pellet producer in Western Canada and have been in operation for over 20 years.

Aside from the Burns Lake plant the company operates five other pellet plants located in Quesnel, Williams Lake, Houston, Armstrong and Meadowbank. These five plants have a production capacity of 760,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually.