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Resolute Forest Products and Fort William First Nation celebrate a sawmill expansion

They also gathered at Mount McKay to mark 20 years of working together.
Resolute sawmill and wood pellet plant Thunder Bay
The Resolute Thunder Bay sawmill is located on the Fort William First Nation (Resolute Forest Products photo)

THUNDER BAY — Resolute Forest Products is increasing a planned investment in its sawmill on the Fort William First Nation.

The company made the announcement Wednesday as it and the First Nation held an event to celebrate their longstanding partnership. 

President Remi Lalonde and Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins gathered with provincial and local community representatives at the Mount McKay Lookout.

The company confirmed an upcoming $17 million investment in the sawmill, a significant increase from what it initially committed to the project.

In June of this year, Resolute announced it would only spend $13 million to increase production at the mill by up to 40 million board feet. It currently processes 330 million board feet of construction-grade lumber and 45,000 metric ton of wood pellets,

The mill employs about 250 people but Resolute plans to add another shift, creating 30 new jobs in the mill and additional jobs in woodlands operations.

Start-up is scheduled for the third quarter of 2022.

"Our investment is aligned with our efforts to improve the competitiveness of the strongest parts of our business across the market cycle," Lalonde said.

Collins said the First Nation is proud of its continued collaboration with Resolute.

"We have worked together on the sawmill for two decades in a true spirit of partnership. We have a strong, mutually beneficial and enduring relationship," he added.

Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford called the partnership a prime example of what can be achieved when industry and First Nations work together.

He said it has demonstrated "that economic activity and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive," and can create meaningful opportunities for families and individuals in the community.

Lalonde said that with Resolute's new forest sector strategy and biomass action plan, the Ontario government recognizes the industry's contribution in Northwestern Ontario as a model for the circular bioeconomy.

Resolute employs more than 900 people in its pulp, paper, lumber, green bioenergy and woodlands operations in the Northwest, with indirect employment of an additional 3,000 people.

The company owns or operates 40 facilities in Canada and the U.S., as well as power generation assets.

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