$350M industrial hemp plant planned

A planned industrial hemp facility is expected to create approximately 1,500 jobs in Prince George.

BC Hemp Corporation announced plans on March 11 for a $350 million facility at its new head offices on the former site of Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, just down the road from the proposed facility. Production is expected to start within two years, with a focus on hemp fibre and grain for hemp-based products like textiles and food products.

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BC Hemp CEO Micheal Fazakas said the project could be a "life-changing" development for the city. The 1,500 jobs represents direct employees, he said, with an estimated annual payroll of $75 million.

Fazakas said he expects preliminary work to start on the site this year, with construction to begin next year. The overall timeline to start product is three or four years. The company is "very close" to having all the permitting and funding it needs in place to bring the project to realization, Fazakas added.

The company has already begun reaching out to farmers, who would produce the hemp crop for processing, he said. Several places around the city have an excellent climate for growing strains of hemp used for making textiles.

Part of the facility will include a 100-acre agricultural test site, to test different varieties of hemp crops and cultivation methods.

The company's five-year plan calls for 300,000 acres of farm land producing hemp in northern B.C. to supply the planned processing facility, with a focus on organic production.

Products which can be made from hemp fibre include clothing, rope, netting, paper and building materials. Hemp grain and oil are used in products like protein flour, food supplements, birdseed, soaps and beauty products.

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