GREENSTONE, Ont. -- A shuttered sawmill is on track to reopen following the signing of a partnership involving three First Nations communities.
A joint venture agreement between Nakina Lumber Inc. and the Agoke Lumber Limited Partnership, representing Aroland, Eabametoong and Marten Falls First Nations, was officially inked on Friday and will lead to the resumption of the Nakina sawmill.
"This (joint venture) agreement is part of an overarching Agoke strategy that will help us continue to ensure that local forest resources are protected, managed and developed for the mutual benefit of our First Nation partners and peoples. It will open up much needed employment opportunities in the Greenstone region, and add another revenue stream for our First Nation partners," Agoke partnership president Mark Bell said in a statement.
The reopening of the Nakina mill is expected to directly create 150 jobs, with another 150 jobs established in woodland operation jobs. There are also expected to be indirect employment created as a spinoff.
The joint venture agreement includes revenue sharing, sawmill equity options and first right of refusal for forestry road construction contracts, log harvesting and delivery and exploring biomass and biofuel generating opportunities.
The news release issued said the timing of the agreement is crucial to meet a U.S. lumber shortage, which has been caused by a combination of the ongoing international softwood lumber dispute, rail transportation issues and damaging forest fires in British Columbia all while the US. housing demand is on the rise.
"We are proud to pave the way for First Nations in Canada who have a dream of securing forest tenure on their traditional lands and benefiting from the tree stump to far past the mill's production gates to international lumber markets," said Bill Spade, the partnership director Eabametoong.
Logging contractors could harvest as much as 500,000 cubic metres of product, which would be sold to Nakina Lumber. An allocation is to be set aside for First Nations entrepreneurs who have the proven capacity to deliver.
This signing comes months after an interim forest management arrangement for the Ogoki Forest was reached by the Agoke Development LP and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in March.