Fort Frances asks for provincial help with Resolute sale
March 4, 2019 – The town of Fort Frances, Ontario has passed a motion criticizing the way Resolute Forest Products has handled the potential sale of its idle pulp mill, asking the provincial government to step in to "use all measures within their authority" to ensure the mill is sold to a company that would reopen it.
According to Tbnewswatch, the town council met Feb. 25 to debate the resolution put forth by counciller Douglas Judson. The resolution argues that Resolute must allow bidders and agree to participating in the process of negotiating access to fibre.
The wording of the passed motion was largely unchanged from the initial resolution that Resolute had deemed defamatory. The company says the town should not be negotiating a contract in public that could affect the sale.
In early February, Resolute sent a letter to Fort Frances mayor June Caul, saying it intends to sell the mill to an undisclosed "community redeveloper" that would tear the mill down.
Caul and the town of Fort Frances say this goes against information they received in December 2018 that Resolute would sell the mill and its assets to Repap Resources, a private investment company that would reopen the mill and create new jobs.
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Resolute says it is running a separate bidding process for other interested parties, who may put together binding offers for the purchase of the mill by March 15, 2019, but the town of Fort Frances's resolution argues that Resolute has not adequately advertised that opportunity.
The company maintains that the Repap Resources negotiation fell through because Repap would not sign what Resolute calls a “standard” non-disclosure agreement that would bar interested parties from involving the government in the sale.
That means a potential buyer would be unable to negotiate the forest management license owned by Resolute for access to the Crossroute Forest, which was the main source of fibre supply for the Fort Frances mill. The forest also currently supplies Resolute’s other operations in Northwestern Ontario.
Greg Rickford, minister of northern development, told Tbnewswatch that the government is "watching the private negotiations" ahead of any discussion on fibre access.
Read the full story here.
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