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Nova Scotia chemists team up with mill to make N95 masks using pulp

2020-05-13 00:00:00

Michael Tutton

The Canadian PressStaff


Published Wednesday, May 13, 2020 5:15PM ADTLast Updated Wednesday, May 13, 2020 5:29PM ADT

HALIFAX -- A team of chemists at Saint Mary's University in Halifax is looking at methods to help East Coast mills produce pulp that can be used in the N95 respirator masks that have been in high demand during the global pandemic.

Christa Brosseau, the lead researcher on the project, says fresh methods are needed to manufacture a supply of the gear used to protect against COVID-19.

The professor is partnering with Port Hawkesbury Paper LP, based in Cape Breton, to determine how to use balsam fir and spruce fibre to produce the pulp needed for the masks.

The scientist says the current N95 masks are typically composed primarily of synthetic polymer materials with cellulose sometimes incorporated into one of the layers that make up the respirator.

Her research team, in collaboration with organic chemist Robert Singer, also of Saint Mary's University, are beginning work next month to come up with ways to allow fibre from the East Coast's softwood species to become the prime material to make the masks.

They envision adding a chemical step to the thermomechanical pulp production used in mills, which initially heats wood chips with steam and then grinds them before the fibre is pressed and bleached.

The Harmac Pacific mill near Nanaimo, B.C., currently makes medical grade pulp using red cedar wood fibre.

In Nova Scotia, the red cedar isn't available, meaning the mills will have to find a way to adapt the process to spruce and fir that dominate in the Acadian forest, said Brosseau.

"We want to make sure that any additives we explore are going to be sustainable, environmentally friendly, cost effective, and could be something that could be implemented into the mill process without gumming up the works," she said.

She says, if successful, the project could help meet the needs of health workers by supplying adequate protection equipment against COVID-19, while also supporting the struggling Nova Scotian pulp and paper industry.

After the recent shutdown of the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, there has been a large decline in the market for wood chips produced by the province's sawmills.

Brosseau said the researchers are looking to have some "potential ideas" for new processes to create medical pulp, including the potential of a mask made entirely of wood fibres, by this fall.

Asked if the process will produce effluent waste, she said, "we don't want to introduce anything into the stream that wouldn't be biodegradable or 100 per cent recovered." She said any additives would have to non-toxic.

A recent grant from Research Nova Scotia will provide about $72,000 to the project, primarily to hire research assistants.

The Port Hawkesbury Paper mill is providing samples of pulp for the chemists.

Andrew Fedora, the company's leader in sustainability and outreach, said that while the project is still in the early stages of research, it looks promising. The mill, which employs about 300 people, currently specializes in making high-quality paper for export.

"There seems to be shortages of various medical equipment with the panic over the shortage of N95 masks," he said in a telephone interview.

"From what I understand, there's more demand than there is capacity ... so, there is great opportunity."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2020.


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Canada Infrastructure Bank Signs Memorandum of Understanding to Advance Wind Energy Project in Nova Scotia

2019-12-17 09:44:00

POINT TUPPER – Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), Port Hawkesbury Paper and IFE Project Management Canada (IFE) announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing their collaboration on the potential Pirate Harbour Wind Farm in Nova Scotia.

The MOU confirms CIB will conduct due diligence work with Port Hawkesbury Paper and IFE during the project evaluation and planning phase. CIB’s work could lead to an investment in the project, subject to all standard due diligence and decision making.

With support from the Province of Nova Scotia, Port Hawkesbury Paper and IFE are evaluating the potential development of a 112 megawatt wind farm, comprised of 28 four megawatt wind turbines, 15 kilometres of overland transmission lines and two kilometres of subsea cables.

The wind farm would supply green energy to Port Hawkesbury Paper, the largest industrial employer in the region, with the goal of further enhancing sustainable energy supply to Nova Scotian industry. It also supports provincial and federal commitments to the environment and the Mill’s ongoing commitment to an environmentally sustainable business.

This is CIB’s first opportunity to partner on a project in Nova Scotia. CIB has specialized infrastructure expertise and the wind farm is consistent with one of its priority sectors – green infrastructure.
Quick Facts:

  • CIB is a Crown corporation mandated to invest $35 billion in federal funding and attract private sector investment into new revenue-generating infrastructure projects.
  • CIB is focused on transformational projects that are in the public interest. Public transit, trade and transportation, green infrastructure and broadband are priority sectors for investment.
  • The Pirate Harbour Wind Farm represents CIB’s eighth project in total and demonstrates CIB is advising on and investing in projects across sectors and regions.
  • The project will reduce the Mill’s reliance on fossil fuels for energy, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The project adds clean, renewable energy generation to the Province and will further increase the sustainability of the Mill’s paper production operations.
  • Port Hawkesbury Paper and IFE will lead the design, construction and financing of the wind farm.
  • This project is an example of how CIB can partner with the private sector and collaborate with the public sector on a project that is in the public interest. The potential wind farm will support environmental and green infrastructure objectives.

This announcement from the Canada Infrastructure Bank is in line with our Government’s commitment to making communities cleaner, healthier and better for Canadians. This project would reduce the Mill’s reliance on fossil fuels for energy, focusing instead on wind farming as a source of renewable energy. CIB’s expertise in green infrastructure will be an asset to this project during the planning phase.
Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

CIB is pleased to bring our infrastructure investment expertise to partner with Port Hawkesbury Paper and IFE. The Pirate Harbour Wind Farm is aligned with provincial, federal and CIB priorities in terms of green infrastructure investment, increased capacity in renewable energy generation and promoting economic development.
Pierre Lavallée, President and CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank

Nova Scotia is a national leader in fighting climate change, and we have reached this position while keeping electricity rates stable. Now, we have set the most ambitious emission reduction targets in the country. The potential of adding more clean, renewable wind energy to our province could help us achieve our goals, while supporting the future of one of the largest employers in rural Nova Scotia. That’s why we are pleased to see this project coming forward for consideration.
Derek Mombourquette, Nova Scotia Minister of Energy and Mines

This partnership has the potential to enable the production of clean energy for the area’s largest industrial employer, while helping the community of Point Tupper and the entire province, to diversify and become more sustainable.
Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Port Hawkesbury Paper is excited to continue the evaluation of the Pirate Harbour Wind Farm with the assistance of the CIB and the support of the Province in order to help further governmental commitments on the environment and enhance long-term environmentally sustainable paper production at the Mill.
Bevan Lock, Co-Mill Manager, Port Hawkesbury Paper

IFE is very pleased to work with CIB and Port Hawkesbury Paper on the development of this green infrastructure project. A decision to build this wind farm will be a landmark in Atlantic Canada, as it will be the first time that a pulp and paper mill, or any large industrial facility, has chosen to work with a wind developer to purchase green energy to fuel its activities.
Keith Towse, CEO, IFE Project Management Canada Inc.

Learn More:

Canada Infrastructure Bank

Port Hawkesbury Paper

Terence Foran
Canada Infrastructure Bank

Allan Eddy
Manager Business Development

Port Hawkesbury Paper


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Update on Fire at Port Hawkesbury Paper

2019-06-21 10:53:00

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, June 21, 2019 - A fire in one of the wood chip silos on the Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) Mill site was discovered at approximately 7:20 PM (ADT) on Thursday, June 20th. The mill Emergency Response Team and the Louisdale Volunteer Fire Department responded to the initial call. The nature of the fire required additional resources, and firefighters from four local fire departments were brought in to assist. 

Two Port Hawkesbury Paper employees and two volunteer firefighters were taken to hospital for treatment. Both PHP employees have been released along with one of the firefighters. We have been told the second firefighter is expected to be released later today.  

The fire is under control, and the PHP response team are making progress toward extinguishing it completely.  External fire department resources are no longer on site.  

Port Hawkesbury Paper is extremely grateful for all those who responded to this incident. As a result of their professional actions, the mill's production has not and will not be impacted.

The mill is cooperating with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education in their incident investigation.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the mill.   



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John Picklesimer Named Interim President of Port Hawkesbury Paper Sales Services

2019-06-04 10:58:00

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, June 4, 2019 – Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) Sales Services (U.S.) LLC announced today that, due to the ongoing absence of Tom Gallagher for health reasons, John Picklesimer has been named PHP Sales Services’ Interim President. With John Picklesimer’s leadership, we will ensure that our customers continue to receive the service and quality that is expected of us, while we hope for Tom Gallagher’s speedy recovery.

Mr. Picklesimer will continue to handle accounts directly and will also have responsibility for Technical Field Service.

Since 2017, Mr. Picklesimer has held the position of VP, Corporate Accounts and International Sales with PHP and from 2012-2017 he held the role of Director, International Sales for the Port Hawkesbury Paper Mill.

About Port Hawkesbury Paper

At Port Hawkesbury Paper, we are the leader in supercalendered paper manufacturing in North America.  We believe that every employee’s actions make a difference, and we rely on committed, skilled people to use leading-edge process and technology to develop best-in-class products. Port Hawkesbury Paper’s Artisan®, Prominence Plus®, Prominence® and Maritime® lines offer a wide selection of supercalendered options to publishers and printers who are looking for premium quality paper for use in retail inserts, catalogs, magazines, circulars and coupons. PHP is the only industrial company in the Maritimes that is independently certified to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) forest management and chain of custody standards, Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) forest management and chain of custody standards, and PEFC™ chain of custody standard.





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Economic Impact Report Outlines Port Hawkesbury Paper Mill's Financial Effect Across Rural Nova Scotia

2018-12-11 04:00:00

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, December 11, 2018 – 6 years after its re-opening, Port Hawkesbury Paper LP (PHP) continues to significantly contribute to the economy of Nova Scotia with total expenditures exceeding $1 billion since the mill was re-opened in 2012.

In the fall of 2018, PHP partnered with Gardner Pinfold to undertake an economic analysis and impact study. The results measured five indicators: the gross value of output, gross domestic product, employment, labour income, and taxes. This is the second economic impact study completed since the mill was purchased and reopened in October 2012. 

The report confirms that the mill generates 325 direct full-time equivalent jobs and an estimated 700 indirect jobs for the region. The average income is 44% higher than the average industrial wage in Nova Scotia. In 2017, the annual mill spending in the province exceeded $170 million. Tax revenues of all types, from both direct and spinoff activities, amount to approximately $27 million annually. Tax revenues include personal income tax, taxes on products and production, and municipal taxes.

PHP’s successful restart and continued success have also brought confidence to supporting businesses in the region. The mill’s supply chain includes over 500 Nova Scotia companies with over $30 million spent on wood harvesting and operations alone.

“The latest report confirms the mill’s impact across many parts of Nova Scotia and that our business is integral to the economic success of the region,” says Allan Eddy, Director of Business Development for Port Hawkesbury Paper.  “Port Hawkesbury Paper’s spending reaches virtually every part of the province, and the mill’s financial impact is critical to Nova Scotia and provides economic cohesion that stabilizes the community.”

Amanda Mombourquette, the Executive Director of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Business confidence in the Strait Area is high with PHP's presence in the region. We see new investments in a variety of industries from advanced manufacturing to tourism. PHP sets a great example for other growth-minded companies in the Strait Area with their commitment to industry and community partnerships, diversification and innovation.”

The PHP mill team continues to focus on using all available assets at the mill and investing in research and industry innovation on value-add projects. Most notably, PHP has made significant investments in the thermomechanical pulp (TMP) operations for improving paper production. Additionally, the Woodlands team is achieving the highest levels of international certification and management to ensure the long-term sustainability of the 523,000 hectares of mill managed Crown woodlands resources.

To download a summary of the report, please click here.

 About Port Hawkesbury Paper

Port Hawkesbury Paper is the leading provider of supercalendered (SC) paper in North America and delivers the highest quality and most efficient paper production available. Port Hawkesbury Paper offers a wide selection of options to publishers and printers who are looking for premium quality paper for use in retail inserts, catalogs, magazines, circulars, and coupons. PHP is independently certified to three internationally recognized forestry certification standards.


Allan Eddy, Director of Business Development, Port Hawkesbury Paper


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Port Hawkesbury Paper Releases Sustainability Report

2018-05-07 00:00:00

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia – May 7, 2018 (Press Release) – Port Hawkesbury Paper has announced the release of its annual sustainability report. The report includes key measurements such as: water and fuel consumption, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and forestry certification with results measured from 2013 through 2017. Port Hawkesbury Paper is committed to sustainability issues and feels that the transparent and voluntary reporting of results supports consumer confidence in the company’s sustainability commitment and establishes a baseline for future sustainability efforts.


“At Port Hawkesbury Paper, we focus on innovation and research to develop new ways to reduce raw material consumption, energy use, and waste minimization or re-use,” said Marc Dube, Business Development Manager for Port Hawkesbury Paper. “We are proud of our accomplishments and have made some significant improvements in mill and woodland operations – impacting both sustainability results and costs.”


Some of the report highlights include the following achievements:

  • PHP is the only industrial company in the Maritimes that is independently certified to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) forest management and chain of custody standards, Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) forest management and chain of custody standards, and PEFC™ chain of custody standard
  • 8% reduction in GHG emissions since 2013
  • 21% decrease in raw water use since 2013
  • 19% decrease in solid waste since 2013


To download a PDF of the entire Sustainability Report, please visit our web site at:



About Port Hawkesbury Paper

Located on the shores of the Strait of Canso in Nova Scotia, Port Hawkesbury Paper is the leading provider of supercalendered (SC) paper in North America. The SC machine at Port Hawkesbury delivers the highest quality and most efficient paper production available. Port Hawkesbury Paper’s Artisan®, Prominence® Plus, Prominence® and Maritime® lines offer a wide selection of supercalendered options to publishers and printers who are looking for premium quality paper. All Port Hawkesbury papers are available as FSC® certified options and are used in retail inserts, catalogs, magazines, circulars and coupons.


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Port Hawkesbury mill surpasses milestone: marks two-plus years without a lost time injury

2014-10-31 15:31:00

For Immediate Release, October 31, 2014, Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia

 Port Hawkesbury Mill recently celebrated two years in business, since restarting the mill in September 2012; and has surpassed the two year mark of zero lost time workplace injuries.

The company tracks this key metric on a daily basis; it is the measurement of lost time any employee experiences as a result of a workplace injury. This information is also shared daily within the mill, and tracked weekly as a KPI – Key Performance Indicator. In an industrial environment, employees are working in and around heavy and highly technical equipment, moving machinery, steam and electricity.  All of these factors increase the level of risk and reinforces the importance of working safely.

As of today, October 31st, 2014,  PHP has achieved two years and one month lost time injury free; which has never been achieved in the history of mill at Port Hawkesbury (current and previous owners included).

 “There are many benefits to achieving zero lost time and having a positive safety culture,” says Marc Dube, Development Manager, PHP.  Most importantly, our employees go home safely to their families everyday.”

“We’re really proud of our employees.  This milestone is significant in that it places the mill in high standing, not only in the region, but across the country, when compared to other large mills,” says Dube.

The Mill was also recently recognized by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce with the 2014 Excellence in Safety Award. 

Contact: Marc Dube, PHP Development Manager   (902) 227-5299

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Port Hawkesbury Paper partners with Eastern Canada Stevedoring to increase wharf activity

2014-05-20 15:32:00

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia

(May 20, 2014) Port Hawkesbury Paper LP (PHP) and Eastern Canada Stevedoring (ECS) have partnered to expand business activities on a wharf that is owned by PHP. 

The Maritime based stevedoring organization will serve as sole operator of the wharf.

"This partnership aligns with our focus on creating more opportunity to ensure long term sustainability for the mill," said Marc Dube, Development Manager, PHP, "Our goal is to significantly increase revenue sources for the mill and grow economic and employment opportunities for the local community."

The wharf is located on the shoreline of the mill's site in Port Hawkesbury on the Strait of Canso.   The wharf boasts an 8-metre depth, ice-free conditions, warehouse facilities, external storage space and is assessable to the nearby Trans-Canada Highway and rail line.

"We're excited about this new partnership as it will help create new business opportunities for the region," said Donald Roy, General Manager, "We also see this as a way to promote the various infrastructures in Cape Breton."

ECS brings marketing strength and depth of experience in handling dry, liquid and break bulk in the region and across Canada. They have recently worked on such projects as the Exxon Hebron Project in 2013 where they loaded several supply vessels of specialized offshore cargo. In addition, Eastern Canada Stevedoring is a leader in handling all types of project cargo as well as forest products such as wood pellets, wood pulp, newsprint, lumber, etc.


The agreement was recently signed and the marketing team has begun outreach across Canada.


Contact: Marc Dube, PHP Development Manager   (902) 227-5299


About Port Hawkesbury Paper

Port Hawkesbury Paper LP ( is a forestry operations and paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.  Port Hawkesbury Paper is one of the most competitive producers of super-calendared paper in North America and ships its products (retail inserts, catalogs, magazines, circulars and coupons) to customers throughout North America and around the world.  Over the year, Port Hawkesbury Paper will invest approximately $160 million in Nova Scotia.  Port Hawkesbury Paper employs over 300 individuals at the mill and over 400 individuals in the woodlands.  Port Hawkesbury Paper forestry operations are the only large forest operations that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified in Atlantic Canada

About Eastern Canada Stevedoring

Eastern Canada Stevedoring is a subsidiary of the QSL Group which operates over twenty five port terminals along the Saint-Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the Maritimes. For over 30 years the Quebec Stevedoring Group and its subsidiaries have been providing their clients with exceptional services tailored to their specific needs. The highly versatile network accommodates over twenty million tons of general, dry bulk and containerized cargo. Boasting an array of facilities, including interior and exterior storage space, along with and intermodal infrastructure already providing links to marine, rail and road transport.

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Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq and Port Hawkesbury Paper begin negotiations for an Impact Benefits Agreement

2013-07-29 15:33:04

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia (July 29, 2013) – Port Hawkesbury Paper LP and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs are working together to negotiate an Impact Benefits Agreement (IBA) arising from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by both parties in January 2013. The MOU is a commitment between the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and Port Hawkesbury Paper to work together and develop a Socio-economic Benefits Agreement and an Environmental Agreement, ensuring meaningful Mi’kmaq participation in forestry operations and the paper mill.

“We understand how critical it is for us to work together to see that our resources are protected” said Chief Gerard Julian, Co-Chair of the Assembly. “Advancing discussions with Port Hawkesbury Paper is a way for us to have input into the Nova Scotia economy, while maintaining our way of life, culture and ensuring the well-being of future generations”.

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and Port Hawkesbury Paper will negotiate an IBA which will include direction on shared priorities such as employment opportunities for the Mi’kmaq, preservation of the environment, and the protection of Mi’kmaq Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

“We are so pleased to move forward with our negotiations for an IBA with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs” says Marc Dube, Development Manager. “Much like the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, Port Hawkesbury Paper is committed to ensuring a sustainable forestry sector, and we work hard every day to ensure we balance social, environmental and economic considerations in the day-to-day operations of our business”.

Port Hawkesbury Paper and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs will begin negotiating the IBA in early July and parties will finalize the agreement in 2014.

About Port Hawkesbury Paper LP:

Port Hawkesbury Paper LP is a forestry operations and paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. Port Hawkesbury Paper is the most competitive producer of super-calendared paper in North America and ships to customers throughout North America, South America, Asia and Europe. Over the past year, Port Hawkesbury Paper has invested approximately $100m in Nova Scotia. Port Hawkesbury Paper employs over 300 individuals at the mill and over 600 individuals in the woodlands. Port Hawkesbury Paper forestry operations are the only large forest operations that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified in Atlantic Canada.

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Port Hawkesbury Paper in full compliance with WTO rules

2013-03-29 15:34:05

March 28, 2013,- - Pacific West Commercial Corporation is responding to an inquiry by the U.S. Trade Representative, to determine whether the investments into the Port Hawkesbury Paper Mill in Nova Scotia may be in contravention of the World Trade Organization's rules.

"The claims we are hearing, specifically from members of congress from Maine, regarding our investment into Port Hawkesbury Paper are completely false.   Pacific West received sound legal advice from specialized trade counsel on this transaction, and our investment is fully consistent with international trade rules" said Shawn Lewis, VP and General Counsel of Pacific West Commercial Corporation.  "Unfortunately, some of the media reports regarding the reopening of the mill have contained exaggerated and erroneous information, which may have led to a significant misunderstanding of the investment."

The reopening of the mill was part of a normal statutory bankruptcy proceeding in the Canadian courts, in which all stakeholders, including those from the United States, were provided an equal opportunity to participate. 

"It is also important to note that United States governments provide large amounts of assistance to the U.S. paper industry, including mills in Maine" added Mr. Lewis.

For further information please contact:


Shawn Lewis

VP & General Counsel

Pacific West Commercial Corporation


Marc Dube

Development Manager

Port Hawkesbury Paper