The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced it will begin building a replacement for St. John's-based Her Majesty's Penitentiary.

Justice Minister Darin King said the government will soon issue a request for proposals to plan for a new men's prison for the province.

King said Monday that the province is willing to move ahead without federal help. However, he did not say how much the project will cost. 

"I mean, I have an idea what the project may cost, but I'm not going to share that with you because it's just a ballpark figure," King said.

"You know, the consultants will come back and they'll outline a floor plan for us. Based on the floor plan, they'll outline a budget of what it's going to cost to build this facility. That's the number we will use when we go back to cabinet looking for approval to move to the next step in this process."

Part of the penitentiary dates back to 1859. Government has been criticized before because of the building's age and condition.

Government said it is looking at several potential sites for its replacement.