Thunder Bay

Resolute marks 20-year partnership with Fort William First Nation with investment in community's sawmill

Resolute is marking its 20-year partnership with Fort William First Nation by expanding operations at its sawmill in the community.

Company investing $17 million in its sawmill on Fort William First Nation, increasing capacity

Resolute is investing $17 million to upgrade its sawmill on Fort William First Nation as the company marks 20 years in its partnership with the community. (CBC)

Resolute is marking its 20-year partnership with Fort William First Nation (FWFN) by expanding operations at its sawmill in the community.

The company announced Wednesday it was investing $17 million in its FWFN sawmill. The funding will expand operations at the facility and creating 30 new jobs.

"The good side of it is job creation," FWFN Chief Peter Collins said. "The spill off from folks that run to the mill every day, they've got to go through our gas bars, to our restaurants."

Collins said a FWFN entrepreneur started a company that's now the log handler in the mill's yard, as well.

"We have close to 17 people working in the mill operation from Fort William itself, and about 17 working in the log handling side of things," he said. "Those are great opportunities and great jobs."

Remi Lalonde, Resolute president and CEO, said the investment will improve throughput and expand the facility's footprint, which will allow the mill to produce more board feet and be more competitive.

"We're going to add equipment, we're going to add drying capacity so that we can dry more board feet of lumber once it's been processed through the saw mill," he said. "We're going to improve the size of the yard so that we can carry more wood inventory on site."

Lalonde said the upgrades will increase the sawmill's output by about 10 per cent, or about 40 million board feed.

"We're going to reduce our costs because we're going to improve the process," he said. "So that makes the sawmill more competitive for the long term, because lumber is a commodity."

"It goes up, but it comes down," he said. "And when it comes down, you want to make sure that you're a competitive producer so that you can ride through the cycles."

The sawmill's upgrades are expected to be in place by the third quarter of 2022.

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