Nova Scotia

NDP releases forest agreement with Port Hawkesbury mill

The Port Hawkesbury Paper mill will be required to buy 200,000 tonnes of pulpwood from private wood suppliers annually under an agreement with the Nova Scotia government released Friday.

Port Hawkesbury mill must buy portion of pulpwood

The Cape Breton mill resumed making paper last month after a yearlong shutdown. (CBC)

With paper now rolling off the line again in Port Hawkesbury, the provincial government released some paper of its own Friday outlining its 20-year agreement to supply wood from Crown lands to the paper mill.

The Port Hawkesbury Paper mill will be required to buy 200,000 tonnes of pulpwood from private wood suppliers annually under the new forest utilization agreement.

The Dexter government called the deal an improvement over the old arrangement.

"We as a province now control our own destiny," said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker.

The deal -- which is renewable after a decade -- covers harvesting on more 520,000 hectares of land in eastern Nova Scotia. It allows the Cape Breton mill to buy up to 400,000 cubic tonnes of pulpwood harvested from Crown lands.

"I think it's a better deal for businesses like saw millers. It's certainly better protection for the environment, there's further recognition for the Mi'kmaq rights," said Parker.

Most of the hardwood will be burned to generate electricity at a biomass plant in the Strait. The Port Hawkesbury Paper mill is also required to offer to produce and sell saw logs to saw mills.

Land protected

Close to 59,000 hectares of Crown land in the agreement has been identified for permanent protection as wilderness. The province has until the end of 2014 to designate protected areas or they'll become subject to harvesting.

"I think a lot of what the Ecology Action Centre has asked for has been addressed," said Matt Miller, spokesman for the environmental group.

But Miller said he conservation group is concerned about a provision that allows the mill to give a biomass facility access to hardwood.

"It would have been better to empower those mills with the ability to manage that resource for themselves and have the biomass facility take what's left over," he said.

Portions of the deal have been blacked out including what the mill will pay in stumpage rates.

The provincial government will only say it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year more than the old agreement.

The plant resumed making paper last month after a yearlong shutdown.

With files from the Canadian Press.