ATIKOKAN – Atikokan Renewable Fuels has accepted a wood supply offer of 179,400 cubic metres per year of poplar and birch fibre. This is in addition to an existing offer of 100,000 cubic metres per year. “The crisis in the North American forest industry has required new approaches to job creation in this industry. That’s why we are taking steps to transform Ontario’s forest sector, creating new jobs and attracting investment in a way that will ensure our forests continue to be managed sustainably. I am excited by today’s announcement and the jobs that will be created in Atikokan and Northwestern Ontario,” stated Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
They will produce wood pellets for domestic and international customers, which can be used to create heating and electricity. This will create up to 95 jobs, help sustain other jobs in the forestry sector and support the local economy.
In addition, with support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), the company plans to convert an industrial site into a mill that will produce the wood pellets.
The wood supply competition is about putting Ontario’s unused wood to work while the government takes steps to introduce a new forest tenure and licensing system. Helping build a stronger forest industry is an important part of the Open Ontario plan to create jobs and opportunities in Northern Ontario.
“Our government wants to support solid, innovative initiatives that will strengthen our forest industry. The allocations we’re announcing in this first round of successful proposals will play a significant role in re-energizing Ontario’s forest products sector,” enthused Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, and Chair of the NOHFC.
“This announcement is an important step towards creating new forestry-based jobs in Atikokan and surrounding areas. MPP Bill Mauro has worked hard on our behalf with the MNDMF to make sure that this was one of the first allocations awarded in Ontario. Bill’s support of this ARF project through the NOHFC has helped keep this project alive while we waited for the forest allocation process to be completed. Minister Gravelle has indeed taken bold steps in offering previously unavailable forest resources within acceptable haul distances from our production facility. ARF is proud to be working with the Rainy Lake Tribal Development Corporation on this project,” commented Ed Fukushima, Atikokan Renewable Fuels.
Ontario is investing $1 million in the plant conversion through the NOHFC’s Enterprises North Job Creation Program and $250,000 toward converting the plant’s existing natural gas heating system to wood fibre-based heat through the Northern Energy Program.
Ontario received 115 submissions in March under the provincial wood supply competition from existing and new forest companies interested in using provincially owned wood and investing in the province.
Ontario is converting the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to bio-mass.