Japanese firm invests in pellet plant

A Prince-George-based wood-pellet manufacturing plant - the second largest of its kind in Canada - has sold a 48 per cent stake in the company to a Japanese conglomerate, the province announced this week.

A statement from the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology said 48 per cent of Pacific BioEnergy, which employs about 55 people and manufactures 550,000 tonnes of wood pellets a year as fuel for industrial uses, has been acquired by Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corp. The cost of the transaction was not released.

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Provincial officials are hailing the move as a "major investment" by Japan in B.C.'s wood pellet industry. Statistics show the province exported $319 million in wood pellets globally in 2016.

Katsunori Takamitsu, Sumitomo's general manager of biomass said in a statement that the pellets are seen as a clean, reliable fuel that will "provide a high-quality and consistent supply" to Japan's utilities sector for power generation. The Japanese company has been importing from B.C. since 2008, and Takamitsu said the investment allows for Pacific BioEnergy to grow further in Japan.

B.C. officials have also expressed hope that the investment will mean Pacific's wood pellets would see an increase access to markets throughout Asia through Sumitomo's worldwide network.

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