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Government of Manitoba gives OK on solar glass manufacturing project

A solar glass manufacturing facility is coming to the city of Selkirk, Man.

On Wednesday, the government of Manitoba said it green-lighted Canadian Premium Sand (CPS) to go ahead with a project that will see silica sand extracted from Hollow Water First Nation and processed in the factory coming soon to Selkirk.

Premier Wab Kinew said the project will create more than 700 jobs during construction and about 270 permanent positions.

In a media release, the province said the Selkirk factory will “produce up to 800 tonnes of solar glass per day,” which it said is a key part of making solar panels. The release added that “the project will be North America’s only low-carbon patterned solar glass manufacturing facility and will appeal directly to countries like the United States that are looking to onshore manufacturing inputs.”

CEO of CPS Glenn Leroux told 680 CJOB that Manitoba has given his company a great opportunity.

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“It’s very rare for a glass manufacturer to have their own supply of sand. So, to be vertically integrated to a sand supply of this quality is very unique,” he said.

The province said the project will generate $200 million in provincial taxes over a decade, and will have a “similarly positive impact on provincial GDP and labour income.”

Canadian Premium Sands has also signed agreements with the First Nation promising environmental stewardship, the province said, which played a role in activist concerns when the government first issued licensing to CPS in 2019.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt said she is confident the project will be carried out safely and responsibly.

“It was important to our government that we took the time to get this decision right,” she said. “We listened to those who were in favour, and we listened to those who had concerns. We worked with experts to walk through every detail, and — throughout this — we continue to hear that these projects are safe and environmentally responsible.”

Schmidt said this brings Manitoba one step closer to reaching it’s net-zero targets.

“I don’t think I could wipe the smile off my face today,” said Larry Johansen, Selkirk’s mayor. “This green initiative will be to Manitoba what oil and gas was to Alberta in the past. It will be the future.”

Leroux said the project will cost about $900 million. Kinew did not specify whether or not any subsidies have been requested from the provincial government.

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