Chapter 1 – Home Again

I’d first like to quickly thank Millar Western Forest Products for having me back on crew for a third straight summer, and The Greenest Workforce for this awesome opportunity to showcase my adventures working in the forest products industry. So to quickly introduce myself, I was born and raised In Whitecourt where I quickly developed an understanding of how important the forestry industry is to hundreds of families in Northern Alberta. My dad and grandpa both worked their careers in the forestry industry, so the mill basically feels like a second home to me. This will be my third summer at Millar Western’s Pulp Division, where I mainly deal with day-to-day operations and quality testing. I’m a third-year finance and economics student studying at St. Francis Xavier University, which is just a short drive from Halifax. I love hockey and golf (if I’m not at the mill I’m probably at the golf course), and I’m really excited to show everyone what Whitecourt has to offer. My end goal for this blog is to introduce to other students how sustainable the forestry industry is, while also giving highlights of adventures from around Alberta.

On Millar Western’s website they state that “We are a leader in sustainable forest management and innovative lumber, pulp and energy technologies”, which is proven through the over 200 million seedlings planted since 1977, and the focus on renewable energy through the newly operational bio-energy project (BEP). On the reforestation front, Millar invokes a policy that guarantees 3 trees will be planted for each tree cut down, which in turn will recreate a strong, habitable forest. On the pulp side of things, the past 4 years have been devoted to starting up the BEP which takes the organic waste from the mill and converts it into 5.2 megawatts of useable energy.

My role at the mill doesn’t include the start-up of a multi-million dollar project like the BEP, but it still keeps me on my toes. My duties are generally split in two. Half the time I’m upstairs in the lab doing bleach dewatering quality tests from different sample points along the process flow. I pass the results of my tests onto my supervisor who then makes adjustments to the chemical balances, ensuring the pulp is up to customer specs. The other half the time I work in the ‘dry end’ of the mill where we deal with the finishing touches and shipping of the product. On a good day at Millar we make and ship over 1000 tons of pulp so things can get pretty hectic.

View from the 6th floor penthouse where the McLeod and Athabasca Rivers meet


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