NB Power is pulling out of a proposed joint project with Maritime Iron that would see a high-emission iron processing plant built in the village of Belledune.
Maritime Iron confirmed in a written statement that it was “surprised and disappointed” that the utility withdrew from talks on the proposal “despite continued positive progress which has already resolved most of the challenges to date”.
Maritime Iron had hoped to begin construction of the iron processing plant this year. He said he would create 1,300 direct jobs during construction and 200 permanent jobs during plant operations.
The plan was to connect the plant to NB Power’s Belledune Generating Station, which would burn gas by-products from the steel plant, allowing the utility to reduce its use of coal.
“NB Power’s decision to suspend negotiations means that we will jointly miss out on an important economic development opportunity in the province,” said the statement from Maritime Iron Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Elena Mantagaris.
She said the company would continue to seek “direct engagement” with the provincial government to keep the project alive.
“We remain confident that there are multiple ways to move this project forward in New Brunswick,” she said.
But Maritime Iron’s own environmental impact assessment document, submitted to the province in January, made it clear that the project’s business case was stronger with NB Power’s involvement.
“A stand-alone operating scenario configuration was considered but was found to be less favorable than the integrated scenario configuration,” he said.
The document says to put the iron factory next to the generator the station “would result in less overall greenhouse gas emissions and… significant savings in capital expenditure”.
Even with NB Power’s involvement, the proposal faced a huge environmental stumbling block.
Maritime Iron’s bid says the two facilities together would emit 4.9 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, almost double the 2.6 million tonnes Belledune currently emits alone.
NB Power’s withdrawal would mean even higher emissions: The EIA submission indicates that the two separately operated plants would emit 6.5 million tonnes of GHGs combined.
NB Power spokesperson Marc Belliveau declined to confirm the withdrawal from utility service on Friday afternoon.
In the EIA document, Maritime Iron argued that supplying the Belledune plant with a gaseous by-product as a fuel source would reduce coal consumption by 50% and allow the plant to continue operating after a phase-out of federal coal in 2030.
But any continued burning of coal at Belledune would require the province to sign a so-called equivalency agreement with Ottawa to exempt the plant from phase-out in exchange for equal emission reductions elsewhere in New Brunswick.
Maritime Iron argued that its plant’s higher emissions would be offset by global emission reductions, as the New Brunswick plant would move higher-emitting iron transformers to other countries and benefit from longer distances. shorter shipping for buyers.
But Canada and New Brunswick cannot get any credit for such reductions because there is no global agreement in place on how to measure and trade the reduction credits.
New Brunswick’s official emission reduction target for 2030 is 14.1 million tonnes. Data from 2018 shows the province emitted 13.2 tonnes in 2018, meaning that the 2.3 million net increase from the Maritime Iron plant would cause the province to start exceeding targets again.
“The implementation of the project will make it difficult for New Brunswick to meet its current ambitious climate change target” once the plant begins operating in 2022, Maritime Iron said in its EIA submission.