Resolute Forest Products is spending $40 million to upgrade and improve its operations in northwestern Ontario, plus an additional $13.5 million in maintenance.
Company president-CEO Yves Laflamme made the announcement during an Oct. 25 press conference attended by Premier Doug Ford and Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Jeff Yurek at Fort William First Nation, the site of Resolute’s Thunder Bay sawmill.
The Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill receives $14.7 million to improve energy efficiency and $14.3 million is earmarked to improve pulp capacity, cut costs and maintain the assets. A further $13.5 million is going into maintenance at the facility.
The sawmill’s planer line is being modernized to the tune of a $5.6 million investment.
The company is sinking $5.4 million into operations in Thunder Bay, Atikokan and Ignace to increase annual production capacity by a combined 50 million board feet of lumber.
Twenty-five jobs have been created.
"Resolute has a strong operating presence in the region, and we are committed to investing in our facilities to ensure their profitability and long-term competitiveness," said Laflamme in a news release.
"A secure fibre supply and sustainable business environment remain critical to future investments in the province."
Resolute employs close to 900 at its pulp and paper plant, sawmill, wood pellet and co-generation operations in Thunder Bay and at its lumber mills in Ignace and Atikokan, as well as in woodlands operations across the region.
“A strong forestry sector is essential for our prosperity, and it has a significant impact on the people living in rural and Northern Ontario," said Ford in a statement.
"It is because of productive partnerships like ours with Resolute that the sector continues to thrive, and we will continue working to create more opportunities for the people of Ontario."
Yurek called it a “great day” for the company and for the forestry sector’s future.
"This investment not only emphasizes the opportunities in this sector, but the real need for a provincial forestry strategy — and we are developing just that. I am confident we can grow our economy, create new jobs and encourage more investments across the province."
"The Fort William/Resolute sawmill partnership is a model of how an Indigenous community and a business can work together to create long-term benefits for both parties," said Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins.
"We had a vision and invested together to create a cornerstone business on our community lands."