Thunder Bay

Resolute Forest Products to build $50M Atikokan sawmill

Resolute Forest Products will build a new sawmill in the Atikokan area, according to Resolute president and CEO Richard Garneau.

More than 90 jobs to be created in the Atikokan area

Resolute Forest Products will build a new sawmill in the Atikokan area, according to Resolute president and CEO  Richard Garneau.

President and CEO of Resolute Forest Products Richard Garneau says the company will build a new random-length sawmill in the Atikokan area. (CBC)

The mill will employ about 90 people, with additional indirect jobs related to hauling lumber and residual chips.

The company pegs the cost to build the mill at about $50 million. Resolute is completing the final selection for a site, but expects to begin construction this spring.

It is hoped to be finished by early 2014.

"We believe in our solid wood business and are taking action to grow and improve it," Garneau said.

"The new random-length sawmill will complement our existing lumber product mix in Ontario."

The company said the Atikokan sawmill will also contribute to the long-term competitiveness of Resolute's pulp and paper operations in Thunder Bay through the supply of residual chips, and support efforts to reposition the currently idled pulp mill in Fort Frances.

The chiefs of the Nigigoonsiminikaaning and Seine River First Nations were quoted in a company news release as welcoming the announcement, saying they look forward to working with Resolute on economic opportunities for their communities.

Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown said the jobs in his community "will be critically important in providing economic stability" for the region.

Today's announcement is the latest in a series of investments announced by the company in northwestern Ontario.

Garneau said Resolute will continue the upgrading project at its sawmill in Ignace. Last November, Resolute also announced plans to build a $10-million industrial wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay, with a completion date of 2014. The plant is being built adjacent to the Thunder Bay sawmill.

Resolute said it had signed a 10-year agreement to supply Ontario Power Generation with 45,000 tons of wood pellets annually.

OPG awarded a similar contract to Atikokan Renewable Fuels.  ARF will produce pellets at a plant in Atikokan, creating 45 jobs.