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Prince Albert pulp mill redevelopment plan


September 18, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Montreal, QC — Domtar has announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the province of Saskatch…

Montreal, QC — Domtar has announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the province of Saskatchewan for the redevelopment of the Prince Albert pulp mill. The plan could result in the reopening of the facility as a northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp mill, producing 100% FSC certified softwood pulp for the North American and offshore markets, with an annual production of approximately 328,000 tonnes.

The plan includes provisions for a green energy expansion of the mill, which would include the sale of excess energy produced to SaskPower, the launch of an FSC certification process on the related forest management area land, and eventual construction of a new wood chip and sorting facility nearby. The understanding also includes acquisition by the Crown Investment Corporation of Saskatchewan of a significant portion of Domtar’s equity interest in the Wapawekka sawmill, which will be expanded, and all of Domtar’s interest in the former Big River sawmill, which it plans to redevelop. There are no plans to restart the paper machine and related sheeters.

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A number of conditions must be met for the plans to go forward, including various engineering and feasibility analyses, the development of a modern and competitive operational design for the pulp mill, consultations with First Nations, and negotiation and signing of definitive agreements with all parties involved. In addition, the plan is subject to approval from the Domtar Corporation board and various regulatory bodies.

“This is an important step towards the redevelopment of the Prince Albert operation into a world-class facility,” said Raymond Royer, president and CEO of Domtar. “We are confident that all parties will collaborate diligently and constructively to execute this plan.” Royer was on hand in Prince Albert to make the announcement.

Over 300 members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, local 1120, met last week and unanimously approved a motion allowing their executive to open discussions with Domtar on a potential new collective agreement to facilitate the reopening of the mill. “We are committed to establishing a new long-term sustainable relationship with Domtar,” C.E.P. local 1120 president Ron Rucks stated in a press release. The redevelopment plan could create up to 425 jobs.

The Saskatchewan government’s pledge of $100 million towards the mill reopening has sparked some controversy. Opposition members claim that the NDP government is playing politics just before a possible fall election, reports Jennifer Graham of Canadian Business Online. However, Prince Albert-Northcote representative Eldon Lautermilch countered, “We have signed the principles … It’s been agreed to by our negotiators, by the Cabinet and it’s been agreed to by Domtar.”


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