New Bio-Industrial Plant in Sarnia to be Celebrated August 6
The Sarnia Observer (July 13, 2015) -- The opening of BioAmber's $125-million succinic acid production facility this year on Vidal Street means more to Sarnia-Lambton than the arrival of another chemical plant and 60 new jobs.
"The significance is way beyond just the opening of the plant," said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.
BioAmber, along with its partner Mitsui, has scheduled a "celebration" for Aug. 6 to mark the opening of the facility designed to turn corn syrup into a chemical used in the making of plastic, cosmetics and other products.
Construction began in late 2013 on an 11-acre site at the Lanxess Bio-Industrial Park on Vidal Street, helping to bring to life an idea Sarnia-Lambton officials have talked about and worked on for a decade or more.
"This is a very significant opening, because it's real, it's here and it has generated a great deal of interest in the private sector, but also with the province and the federal government," Bradley said.
Building on the community's history as a centre for petrochemical manufacturing, the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership came up with the concept of creating a "biohybrid chemical cluster" to also draw in employers who make chemicals and energy from renewable sources.
"When you're looking at economic development, you've got to look at the long game," Bradley said.
He added Sarnia-Lambton was a pioneer at creating the cluster with Lambton College and industry, and setting up the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park where several bio-companies have established pilot plants.
"We looked at what the future was, and took a gamble on this industry," he said.
"So, we're starting to see some really good things happen."
Montreal-based BioAmber, formed approximately seven years ago, began been making bio-succinic acid at a facility in France using technology that originated in the 1990s with the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 2011, BioAmber announced it would build its first global-scale plant and locate it in Sarnia.
Following that announcement, BioAmber developed and adjusted its plans and put financing in place through grants, government and commercial loans, partnerships and the stock market.
The company has already begun commissioning the plant that is expected to begin commercial operations later this year, even as construction crews continue to complete work at the site.
At the same time, BioAmber is making plans for a larger second plant in North America to manufacture both butanediol and succinic acid.
Back in March, BioAmber officials said the second plant was expected to cost $400 million to build, and that they were looking at two U.S. sites, as well as Sarnia-Lambton.
Bradley said the Aug. 6 event in Sarnia will be an opportunity for the community to show what has been done so far to develop its bio-sector, and to look for more government support to continue those efforts.
He noted several MPs and MPPS are expected to be invited to attend the celebration at new Sarnia plant.
"They will see this is real, and that it's the future," Bradley said.
- Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer