Site for Atikokan sawmill acquired
Resolute Forest Products Inc. today confirmed the acquisition of a site to build a new random length sawmill in the Atikokan area.
The $50-million (Cdn.) project, announced in late January, will create about 90 direct jobs at the sawmill, as well as secure or create additional in-direct positions related to harvesting and hauling activities.
Planning work for the project is largely completed, and the bid process for the civil and mechanical portions is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
“We are excited about this additional investment in our lumber business in Northwestern Ontario,” said Resolute president and CEO Richard Garneau.
“The new random length sawmill will complement our existing wood products mix, strengthening Resolute’s competitive position,” he noted.
Garneau said the project is part of an overall capital program in Ontario, started in early 2011 and totalling over $190 million (Cdn.)
“We are particularly pleased with the active involvement of First Nations and the opportunity for shared economic benefit,” he remarked.
Today’s announcement was welcomed by Ontario regional and provincial officials, and First Nations’ leaders.
“[This] is very encouraging news for the forestry sector in Ontario, and it is a positive sign that the sector is beginning to recover from a challenging economic period,” said Natural Resources minister David Orazietti.
“The province remains strongly committed to supporting the forestry sector, and this new $50-million sawmill will benefit the residents of Atikokan and the surrounding area by creating jobs and supporting the local economy,” he noted.
“This is exactly the type of development the north needs–modern mills of good scale that create jobs and boost the regional economy while using a sustainably-managed and renewable resource,” echoed Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle, who also is minister of northern development and mines.
“All in all, today is a great day for Northwestern Ontario.”
“The choice of the Sapawe site will provide a sense of continuity and optimism,” said Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty.
“Resolute should be congratulated for their continued support of northern communities.”
“We are pleased to hear Resolute Forest Products has chosen a site in Atikokan for their new sawmill operation in Northwestern Ontario,” said Chief Gary Allen and Chief Earl Klyne, speaking on behalf of the Rainy Lake Tribal Development Council.
“With the new site now selected, opportunities will begin to emerge for the people in our communities and all of the people in the surrounding areas,” the chiefs noted.
“We look forward to the partnership with Resolute in the next phase, of construction, which will strengthen and build on our economy.”
The Atikokan sawmill is expected to begin production by the end of the second quarter of 2014.
With its existing sawmill in Thunder Bay, and following the launch of the new Atikokan sawmill and the company’s upgraded Ignace facility, Resolute will have three of the most modern sawmills in Eastern Canada.
Their combined production capacity of more than 560 million board feet will make Resolute the largest lumber producer in Ontario.
The sawmills also will contribute to the long-term competitiveness of the company’s pulp and paper operations in Thunder Bay through the supply of residual chips, as well as support efforts to reposition the currently indefinitely-idled pulp mill in Fort Frances.