A northwestern Ontario sawmill officially re-opened today after being shuttered for more than five years.

The Eacom Timber Corporation has spent the last several months retrofitting the mill in Ear Falls.

By the middle of the month, more than 50 people will be working on the first shift, general manager Harrison Wicks said. Over 150 people applied for the jobs.

"We were a little concerned in the beginning about not having enough people to man the plant,” he said.

“But I guess that was one of those things we really didn't have to worry too much about."

Ear Falls sawmill

The general manager at Eacom's Ear Falls sawmill says there will be another round of hiring for a second shift, which is expected to start early next year. (Harrison Wicks)

Wicks said there will be another round of hiring for a second shift that he expects to start early next year. That will bring the number of sawmill workers to about 100.

Ear Falls mayor Kevin Kahoot said people are feeling upbeat with the news.

“It breathes ... a breath of fresh air in the community again. It creates some jobs, it creates a lot more local economy ... with dollars spent in the community."

When the mill closed five years ago, the effects were devastating, Kahoot added. Some former workers are now returning to the mill.

Wicks noted the mill has been retrofitted to be more efficient, so it's meant to  "withstand the lowest ... prices in the downturn.”

If the economy or the price of lumber goes down, the mill is expected to be “a low-cost producer,” he said.

The mill will produce dimensional two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, and two-by-threes.