Put their feet to the fire

Sometimes when you write a story, facts and figures conflict and may or may not be accurate.
I take, for instance, information that was published in the Fort Frances Times on Nov. 5 when the minister of natural resources and forestry revealed that Expera had been offered more than 700,000 cubic metres of fibre by Resolute to operate the kraft mill here in Fort Frances.
It appeared to be a reasonable number until I was presented with information last week that the local kraft mill traditionally had used 940,000 cubic metres of fibre. In addition, the paper machines used a great deal more.
Resolute, in their information to the Times published on Nov. 26, Seth Kursman, vice-president of Corporate Communications, said the efforts to find a new owner for the mill here were significant.
He also indicated the same arrangements were offered to all the prospective buyers.
If the information that Natural Resources and Forestry minister Bill Mauro had (indicating Resolute had offered up to 700,000 cubic metres of fibre to the Fort Frances mill) is accurate, and that same amount of fibre had been offered to all the prospective buyers, it is evident the new owners only would have enough fibre to run three-quarters of the year.
The Atikokan sawmill will require 575,000 cubic metres of fibre to operate. Forestry specialists estimate that almost 50 percent of the fibre that goes to a sawmill is chipped and sent to a pulping mill.
Did Resolute propose to return that 50 percent to Fort Frances so the mill here would operate, or is their purpose to send those 280,000 cubic metres of fibre to Thunder Bay?
The Town of Fort Frances’ forestry expert and the Ministry of Natural Resources both have indicated that more than enough wood exists in the Crossroute Forest to meet the needs of the kraft mill here, the Atikokan saw mill, the Ainsworth plant in Chapple, Manitou Lumber, and the Nickel Lake sawmill.
In a fully-integrated forest, the sawmills require pulp mills to reduce the cost for lumber. The pulp mills, in turn, require the chips to reduce their costs. More of the total tree is used, improving harvest and the reforestation of the land.
In fact, the province had encouraged Resolute—through substantial grants—to build the “hog fuel” steam and electrical generator in Fort Frances to maximize the use of the trees from the Crossroute Forest and sustain the future of the Fort Frances operation.
Today, those branches that would have been chipped for the boiler while the smaller parts of the trees would have been chipped and sent to a pulping mill.
Sometimes even when the facts are accurate, they may not tell the whole story. It is important to note that in the first week of January, yet another party had shown an interest in acquiring the Fort Frances mill.
That being the case, maybe it is time for the province, under the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne, to put the feet to the fire of Bradley P. Martin, chairman of the board of Resolute Forest Products, Resolute board members Michel P. Desbiens, Jennifer C. Dolan, Richard D. Falconer, Jeffrey A Hearn, and Alain Rheaume, and company president Richard Garneau to determine if Resolute really has been interested in selling the Fort Frances mill.

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