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Unifor wants government to save Fort Frances sale


November 19, 2014
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Unifor is calling on the provincial government to step in and create conditions favorable to the sale of the shuttered pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances, Ont. In the short-term, the union is requesting that the government must commit to heat…

Unifor is calling on the provincial government to step in and create conditions favorable to the sale of the shuttered pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances, Ont. In the short-term, the union is requesting that the government must commit to heat the pulp mill over the winter to preserve the equipment in the mill.

“We are frustrated that plans to save a closed pulp mill in Fort Frances currently owned by Resolute Forest Products are needlessly floundering,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president.

Recently, Expera Specialty Solutions, a Wisconsin-based paper company, announced that its exploration of the purchase of the Fort Frances pulp mill owned by Resolute had ended and that it was unable to reach a deal. The acquisition would have resulted in 200 jobs at the facility and another 800 related jobs, says Unifor.

One impediment to the sale is reported to be the availability and cost of wood fibre. Resolute still controls a forest licence for the area.

“The government needs to take action to not just save the mill, but to establish a fair and economical way to manage our forestry resources,” stressed Dias.

Unifor is also calling on the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to immediately establish a multi-stakeholder taskforce to make recommendations regarding forestry licencing and resource management.

“There is good potential for the forestry industry in Ontario, which is obviously based on a renewable resource, to have a strong future. But that is not going to happen without leadership from the government and business, in consultation with community, labour and First Nations,” said Dias.

Resolute permanently closed the Fort Frances mill in May 2014. It had been idle since January of that year. Resolute vice-president of communications Seth Kursman told CBC news that the company has made a significant effort to reposition the mill and has spent more than $10 million keeping the mill heated for two winters in order to protect the assets.


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