Alabama Company Buys Miss. Pellet Mill

WIGGINS, Miss. (AP) -- Enviva LP, which sells wood pellets to a European electrical utility, has acquired a controlling interest in a Wiggins, Miss., pellet plant.

Terms were not disclosed.

Enviva, a Richmond, Va.-based manufacturer of biomass fuel, tells the Mobile Press-Register that it will expand the former Piney Woods Pellets plant from its current 50,000 tons a year to 150,000 tons. It said it would increase employees to 22.

Wood pellets are burned by power plants and industries in an attempt to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Pellets also are burned for heat and sold as cat litter. A number of pellet mills have been built in the Southeast in recent years.

The Wiggins mill opened in 2009.

Thomas Meth, Enviva's executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the wood pellets would be transportation the Port of Mobile, where they will be loaded onto oceangoing ships.

In August, Enviva announced that it has signed a long-term contract to supply almost 530,000 tons a year of pellets to Electrabel, a Belgian unit of GDF Suez, a French electric and natural gas firm.

Enviva earlier bought a wood pellet mill in Amory, Miss., saying it would expand capacity from 50,000 tons to 100,000 tons. That mill is on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and can ship pellets by barge to Mobile.

Meth said port access is important. He said the Wiggins site was attractive because there's relatively little competition for wood within the 75-mile radius where Enviva plans to buy logs.

He said the company plans to keep expanding, and could consider other Mississippi and Alabama sites. Enviva already has a 120,000-ton-a-year plant in Germany and a 60,000-ton-a-year plant in Belgium, but needs another 100,000 tons of capacity to supply Electrabel.

"We're going to make additional announcements over the next few months," Meth said.
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