Montreal's Resolute Forest Products is building a new $50-million sawmill in northwestern Ontario, near Atikokan.
In a Jan. 31 statement, the company states the mill will involve the construction of a single-line, random-length sawmill with an annual capacity of 150 million board feet. There will be mill jobs for 90 people and more positions created for hauling finished lumber and residual chips.
Final site selection in the Atikokan area will be completed in the next few weeks with construction starting this spring. The completion date is early 2014.
"We believe in our solid wood business and we're taking action to grow and improve it,” said Richard Garneau, Resolute's president and CEO. “The new random length sawmill will complement our existing lumber product mix in Ontario and will allow Resolute to improve its product offering to customers in central Canada and key markets in the United States.
"We are particularly excited about the active involvement of First Nations in the project and the opportunity for shared economic benefit that this represents."
The company said once the Atikokan mill is operational and its upgraded Ignace facility re-opens, Resolute will have three modern sawmills in northwestern Ontario with a total production capacity of 600 million board feet.
"This is extremely good news for the economy in northwestern Ontario,” said Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle, “and specifically the Atikokan area. I am particularly pleased to see Resolute's proactive effort to involve First Nations in a manner that creates opportunities and shared benefit.
"We welcome the additional investment by Resolute in Ontario,” he added. “Over the past 18 months, the company has announced over $175 million of investments in the province, and I am certainly encouraged that a new sawmill in Atikokan could potentially make a positive contribution as Resolute continues to look at viable options for its Fort Frances pulp mill."
Among Resolute's recent investments in northwestern Ontario includes a $10-million wood pellet plant for Thunder Bay. The company secured a provincial government procurement contract to supply pellets to the Atikokan Generating Station, a former coal burning plant now undergoing a major conversion.
That mill, when completed in 2014 will create 24 jobs, attached to the 350 jobs already at Resolute's Thunder Bay sawmill.
"We are encouraged by Resolute's investment plans in our traditional area and look forward to working with the company to achieve our economic goals and establish business opportunities associated with this project,” said Gary Allen, Chief of Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation.
"This is great news for our community and the surrounding area. These jobs will be critically important in providing economic stability for our region," said Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown.