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Enerkem raises $60 million for Pontotoc plant

From staff reports

CHICAGO — Enerkem Inc., a leading waste-to-biofuels and chemicals company based in Canada, announced today an additional $60 million in financing for its Pontotoc, Mississippi plant, on which the company expects to break ground later this year.

The plant will be located within the Three Rivers Landfill and convert trash to methanol and ethanol. If finished before a similar Enerkem plant in Canada, it will be the first large, commercial-scale plant in the world to produce ethanol from garbage.

The Pontotoc plant will produce 10 million gallons of biofuels per year. Typical plants of this size cost approximately $80 million to $90 million, Enerkem said.

The Mississippi Development Authority is working to finish a Memorandum of Understanding with the company and would not disclose details.

Enerkem said the project is “eligible for financial support under current state programs — infrastructure support, for example, tax incentives, work force training, things of that nature.”

Additional financing will come from a $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The USDA has also awarded Enerkem a conditional commitment for an $80 million loan guaranteed.

As part of the additional $60 million in financing, Valero Energy Corp. has joined existing investors Waste Management, Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and Cycle Capital, who have each invested in the new equity round.

Valero, an international manufacturer and marketer of transportation fuels, other petrochemical products and power, has invested in 10 ethanol plants throughout the Midwest.

“With Valero joining Waste Management as a strategic investor, Enerkem becomes one of the very few renewable products companies that is aligned with industry leaders from both upstream and downstream parts of the business,” said Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem, in a statement.

Founded in 2000, Canada-based Enerkem has one demonstration project operating in Quebec that produces syngas from the treated wood of old telephone poles. It also has a pilot facility that produces ethanol.

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