MEDICINE HAT, AB – It was a historic day for the Cancarb industrial plant on Wednesday, as they announced a major expansion of their operation to the tune of $40.1 million.
Stakeholders, workers, and media members met inside one of the warehouses at Cancarb for the announcement, which is the first expansion for the business in close to two decades.
Cancarb president Ken Tate said it’s been a project that has been a year in the making.
“We really put our efforts behind it and worked very hard over the last 12 months to make this a reality today,” said Tate.
Cancarb will add a sixth unit to their facility, which will mean an additional 9,000 metric tons of carbon black can be produced once the new unit is up and running.
Shipped mostly outside of Canada, carbon black is a rubber agent used for things like tires and plastics.
The facility’s production will be increased by 20 percent with the expansion, while they’ll be adding an additional 27,000 square feet of warehouse space.
Hajime Nagasaka, CEO of Cancarb’s parent company Tokai Carbon, flew in from Japan to make the announcement on Wednesday.
He said the rapid output of the Medicine Hat plant in recent years convinced Tokai Carbon to invest in a major expansion.
“Currently, [it's been] a very big effort from every employee,” said Nagasaka. “We're already sold out of product and [Cancarb] has to be expanded immediately.”
It’s not just increased production that this expansion will bring to Cancarb, as Tate said they’ll be adding a number of full-time positions.
“The estimated capital cost for the project will be a little over 40 million dollars and add nine new positions at Cancarb,” he said.
That’s peaked the interest of Mayor Ted Clugston, who was on hand and delivered a speech at the Cancarb announcement.
He said it’s big news not just for the plant, but for the entire city as well.
“We've been hearing about the low unemployment rate in Medicine Hat and hopefully maybe we'll have some new people having to move here,” said Clugston. “New houses, all that goes with that, cars, restaurant sales, everything that happens when you have increased employment in the community.”
Over the years, any waste heat power at Cancarb has been turned into electricity at the plant and sent back to the City.
With the newest expansion, Clugston said the City could see an additional five megawatts of electricity at full capacity.
“The City could use a little bit of extra power,” he said. “We already had a great agreement with them and now we're getting a little bit more power. So, this basically checks all the boxes.”
It will be the fourth expansion since Cancarb’s opening in 1973, but will be the first since being purchased by Tokai Carbon four years ago.
According to Tate, sales are holding strong and he said this investment bodes well for the plant’s economic future.
“I think it shows a real commitment to us, to Cancarb, to our employees, to the City that they have chosen to invest here,” he said.
Ground will be broken on the project in April, while the expansion is expected to be completed by the summer of 2020.
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