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MDF plant getting ready to roll

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

In April, it was announced Laurentian Valley Township's medium density fibreboard plant is gearing up to reopen. Now renamed Pembroke MDF, the plant was able to secure a supply of cheaper electricity to reopen the operation. Here, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli helps announce the good news.

In April, it was announced Laurentian Valley Township's medium density fibreboard plant is gearing up to reopen. Now renamed Pembroke MDF, the plant was able to secure a supply of cheaper electricity to reopen the operation. Here, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli helps announce the good news.

LAURENTIAN VALLEY TWP. - The newly reopened fibreboard plant continues to gear up for operations, and expects to start producing boards by the end of the month.

Mike Ackman, Pembroke MDF Ltd.'s plant manager, said they currently have around 65 employees on site, and have been rebuilding everything within the plant to get it ready for production.

"It is just taking a little longer to overhaul the equipment than originally planned," he said, adding they will be doing a series of test runs of wood pulp through the machinery starting Wednesday. The plan is to have the first board off the press by the end of August.

As operations ramp up, so will the hiring.

Ackman said they will be starting a shift of 14 workers this month, and intend to add a second one in October. A third shift is scheduled to begin in December, with a fourth to be added in January or February 2015.

The molding part of the plant will be starting up in 2015.

It was announced in April of this year the MDF plant - for medium density fibreboard - would be reopening after being shut down at the end of 2008. The company had been forced to do so because of a perfect storm of a lessening in demand for fibreboard, increasing costs for wood fibre, and a steep increase in the price of electricity.

Progress was made to reopen the plant after Pembroke MDF applied to participate in the Ontario government's Industrial Electrical Incentive program, which under a multi-year agreement provides new or expanding industries low-cost power. They received approval in June 2013, and immediately went to work to get the plant up and running again.

An announcement and ceremony officially marking the start of operations of the MDF plant will be held sometime in September.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca


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