Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) today announced $40 million in investments at its Northwestern Ontario operations, in addition to $13.5 million in major maintenance and the creation of 25 new jobs. The announcement was made at a press conference in Thunder Bay attended by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Jeff Yurek, and many dignitaries and company employees.
"Resolute has a strong operating presence in the region, and we are committed to investing in our facilities to ensure their profitability and long-term competitiveness," stated Yves Laflamme, president and chief executive officer. "A secure fiber supply and sustainable business environment remain critical to future investments in the province."
The investment plan includes $14.7 million for the company's Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as $14.3 million to improve pulp capacity, reduce costs and maintain assets. Resolute also expects to spend $13.5 million in major maintenance at the facility in 2018.
An additional $5.6 million is earmarked for the modernization of the planer line at the company's Thunder Bay sawmill, located on Fort William First Nation land, as well as $5.4 million to optimize its Atikokan, Ignace and Thunder Bay sawmills. These initiatives are expected to increase the annual production capacity of the facilities by a combined 50 million board feet of lumber. Twenty-five full-time jobs have been created.
"Ontario's forestry sector is a very important part of our economy, it is one of the largest employers in the province. A strong forestry sector is essential for our prosperity, and it has a significant impact on the people living in rural and Northern Ontario," said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. "It is because of productive partnerships like ours with Resolute that the sector continues to thrive, and we will continue working to create more opportunities for the people of Ontario."
"Today is a great day for Resolute, and for the future of Ontario's forestry sector," said Jeff Yurek, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "This investment not only emphasizes the opportunities in this sector, but the real need for a Provincial Forestry Strategy — and we are developing just that. I am confident we can grow our economy, create new jobs and encourage more investments across the province."
"The Fort William/Resolute sawmill partnership is a model of how an Indigenous community and a business can work together to create long-term benefits for both parties," stated Peter Collins, Chief of Fort William First Nation. "We had a vision and invested together to create a cornerstone business on our community lands."
Close to 90% of the new lumber and pulp capacity is destined for export markets. More than half of project expenditures are slated for the last quarter of 2018.
Resolute employs close to 900 workers across its Northwestern Ontario pulp, paper, wood products and woodlands operations. The company has invested approximately $200 million in the region over the past several years.