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Ginoogaming First Nation aims for OSB plant

Northwestern Ontario community looks to put unutilized wood through the mill as building products
(Ontario Forest Industries Association Twitter photo)

Ginoogaming First Nation wants to put some underutilized hardwood resources in northwestern Ontario to work by making building material. 

The community, 40 kilometres east of Geraldton in northwestern Ontario, has plans to build an Indigenous-run oriented strand board (OSB) or laminated strand lumber (LSL) mill utilizing approximately 600,000 cubic metres of poplar, aspen and birch from the Kenogami Forest and the surrounding area.

From that volume, Ginoogaming said in a news release that it can manufacture 550,000 square feet of OSB or LSL for the building construction and home renovation market.

To further evaluate this concept, Ginoogaming announced May 18 that it has netted $300,000 in funding from the federal government’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI) to hire some consultants to do a feasibility study. IFI provides financial support to Indigenous-led economic development projects in the forestry sector.

Involved in the study are Kozar Engineering, Ne-Daa-Kii-Me-Naan Inc., ArboVitae Consulting Services and R J Knauff & Associates.

The feasibility study is due out sometime this summer. 

Some of the background details on this mill concept, as outlined in the release, is that more than 100 mill jobs would be created with about 300 more jobs to harvest and transport the wood to the mill. Construction would take place over 36 months at a cost of more than $400 million. The facility would be heated by biomass. 

In a statement, Ginoogaming Chief Sheri Taylor said the study will be used to attract investors to partner with them “to make this project a reality.”

“This is an exciting time for Ginoogaming First Nation as we have a deep-seated desire to build a forest-based economy to benefit, not only our community, but other area Indigenous communities and the Municipality of Greenstone. Longlac Wood Industries closed its plywood plant more than a decade ago. Since then, hardwood in the region has gone unutilized. This project will use this fibre to provide a huge economic benefit to the region.”

In the release, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the study offers an opportunity for the community to participate in the forestry industry and the regional economy, a sector where past generations “were expressly left out” which led to “poverty and poor social outcomes.”