Enerkem, with headquarters in Montreal, broke ground on a similar plant in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday. The company is going through the permitting process in the U.S., much like it did in Canada, Chornet said.
“We are making good progress and expect to break ground on the Pontotoc facility in the first quarter of 2011,” he said.
The Edmonton plant is the world’s first industrial-scale biofuels project to use municipal solid waste as feedstock. It will have the capacity to produce 10 million gallons of ethanol. It is expected to be operational by the end of 2011.
In Pontotoc, Enerkem has said it will convert about 190,000 tons of unsorted municipal solid waste from the Three Rivers Solid Waste Management Authority to produce about 10 million gallons of ethanol and “green chemicals” annually.
The Pontotoc plant would employ 40-50 people.
Construction of what company officials have called the “first phase” of the Pontotoc project would take about 18 months once all state and federal environmental permits are granted. Up to 130 construction jobs would be created as well.
Chornet said that the announcement last week that Texas-based KiOR planned to open several biofuel facilities in the state would complement Enerkem’s efforts.
He said Mississippi had abundant resources for KiOR, Enerkem and other biofuel companies to do business.
“KiOR’s announcement was great and shows how the state has become a leader in biofuels and why we initially chose to go to Mississippi to build our first U.S. facility,” Chornet said.
Enerkem received a $50 million U.S. Department of Energy grant in December to help build and operate the Pontotoc plant.