Thunder Bay·Audio

Ignace residents remain skeptical over Resolute sawmill restart

The refurbished Resolute sawmill at Ignace has resumed operation, after the company spent $20 million on the upgrade.

Community members worry lumber mill will not be viable in the long term

About 30 people currently work at Resolute Forest Products' Ignace sawmill — a number that could expand to 60 jobs, if a second shift is added. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The refurbished Resolute sawmill at Ignace has resumed operation, after the company spent $20 million on the upgrade.

But some in the community want to see the plant running at full capacity before doing any celebrating.

About 30 people are now working at the plant, which was idled for nearly eight years. Up to 60 people could be employed when a second shift is added.

Eugene Naumann, who runs a gift and bait store on Highway 17, says the nearby Resolute sawmill in Ignace has restarted before, only to be shut down. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
Resolute says it has invested $20 million in upgrades to its Ignace sawmill. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
But instead of optimism, some are skeptical.

"Well the results of ... working full time means a lot to the community,” said Eugene Naumann, who runs a gift and bait shop on Highway 17.

“But in the short term, the community is sort of hesitant on believing that it's actually going to happen."

Naumann said he's concerned that, if the lumber market drops, the mill will not be viable.

"There's a few people that are working there now. I know people that live in the town that are expecting jobs out there. I know of people that have come back to work there. Now, whether they have employment at this particular time, [that’s] another story."

Sandy Twardowsky echoed his sentiment.

"They've talked about opening the sawmill before, and it's never come to fruition, and we've had our hopes dashed,” she said.

“And now, I think we're all just a little afraid to get too hopeful.”

Twardowsky said it may take a year of operation before the community believes the plant is open for the long-term.

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