Drax mill construction to begin next year

Drax Biomass International Inc. will begin construction of its pellet manufacturing plants in Morehouse Parish and Gloster, Miss., in the first half of next year.

The Burlington, Mass., company made the announcement Thursday, though word of those plants and the $30 million storage and loading facility they will supply at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge emerged last month when Drax struck a deal to lease 10 acres of land with the port.

Drax will manufacture wood pellets using local timber for renewable, low-carbon power generation.

Morehouse BioEnergy and Amite BioEnergy in Gloster will begin operation in 2014, with combined capacity to produce 900,000 metric tons of biomass pellets annually using fiber from actively and sustainably managed forests, the company said.

Drax’s storage and loading facility at the Port of Baton Rouge, which will also be operational in 2014, will have the capacity to store 80,000 metric tons of biomass pellets it takes in by rail and truck.

The pellets will be shipped out for use in power plants, primarily in Europe.

Economic development agencies in Louisiana and Mississippi provided financial incentives to attract Drax, the company said.

The lease with the port has three five-year options and includes base rent of $6,500 per acre and additional revenue based on the amount of pellets that run through the facility.

Initial revenue for the port from the deal is projected to be $672,000 in 2014 and about $1.6 million in 2015.

In that year, for example, $1.1 million would come
from throughput. The operation is projected to bring $274,500 in dockage (30
Panamax vessels) and $90,000 in rail revenue (9,000 rail cars).