THUNDER BAY – Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) and six First Nations Chiefs today held an official signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that sets out a framework for negotiating business agreements related to the company’s sawmill investments in Northwestern Ontario.
In attendance at the signing, hosted by Resolute, were Chief Mainville of Couchiching First Nation, Chief Klyne of Seine River First Nation, Chief Windego of Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, Chief Henderson of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, Chief Jordan of Lac La Croix First Nation and Chief White Cloud of Lac des Milles Lacs First Nation, as well as the Honourable Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
“Already, this initiative has resulted in $100 million in new business for our six First Nations MOA partners,” stated Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer. “This agreement underscores the commitment of both Resolute and its operating communities to work together to create jobs and economic opportunity for Northwestern Ontarians.”
The agreement, originally signed in June 2013, has yielded contracts for: construction at Resolute’s sawmills; transportation for hauling chips, biomass and lumber from the sawmills; yard services to manage loading and unloading of logs, lumber and by-products; and log harvesting and delivery.
“Speaking for all Chiefs here today, this agreement is ground-breaking and incredibly important to our First Nations,” stated Chief Earl Klyne, Seine River First Nation. “It reflects a balanced approach to sustainability, not only supporting environmental goals, but the social and economic goals of the region as well.”
Resolute has invested $90 million in Northwestern Ontario in the construction of a new sawmill in Atikokan, the upgrade and restart of the idled Ignace sawmill, the production capacity increase at the company’s Thunder Bay sawmill, as well as the addition of a wood pellet plant at the Thunder Bay site. These investments are expected to create 200 new Resolute jobs and another 200 woodlands operations jobs, in addition to indirect employment.
“Resolute has been proactive in working with area First Nations communities and businesses to provide important economic opportunities,” said Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “These relationships are beneficial for both Aboriginal communities and for Resolute in signaling an upturn for local forestry operations.”
“Resolute has made significant investments in Northwestern Ontario at a time when there are growing signs of recovery in the forest products sector,” said the Honourable Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Northern Development and Mines. “As the sawmills ramp up their activity, these operations will help encourage the future prosperity of our Aboriginal communities.”