German company tours mill site

Dave Bartlett
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Don't get hopes up yet, minister warns

An unnamed German pulp and paper company toured the former AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor last week and has expressed interest in possibly setting up shop in the province.

But Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale said people shouldn't get their hopes up, as discussions with the company are at a very early stage.

From left, Lorraine Michael, Kathy Dunderdale and Yvonne Jones.

An unnamed German pulp and paper company toured the former AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor last week and has expressed interest in possibly setting up shop in the province.

But Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale said people shouldn't get their hopes up, as discussions with the company are at a very early stage.

The revelation came in question period when NDP Leader Lorraine Michael asked about the government's repeated claims that the cost to clean up the former Abitibi properties will be offset by the assets expropriated by the province in 2008.

"How long are we going to have to wait before these assets are turned into real benefits, instead of pinning everything on phantom hopes?" Michael asked.

She then questioned if the province was actively marketing the power assets to major industrial customers.

Dunderdale surprised both opposition parties and reporters in the press gallery with her answer.

"I am happy to say that we've had an expression of interest from Germany last week ... looking at what we have to offer in central Newfoundland. We are very hopeful about that prospect, Mr. Speaker," she told the House, just as question period was ending.

Outside the House, Dunderdale elaborated.

She said it was a "very credible" pulp and paper company which toured the former mill.

"(It) sees some opportunitybecause Abitibi is withdrawing from its markets in Europe," she said.

Dunderdale said before the province started seriously talking to the company, she wanted its officials to come and take a look at the mill.

She then met with the company to tell them what the provincecan offer.

"They've gone to develop a business plan and we'll see if we can do business together," she said.

But she said the government isn't going to hand the mill over to just any company without looking at proposals carefully.

"If they're looking for loan guaranteesor big subsidies from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, that's not going to happen," Dunderdale said.

The minister also couldn't say if the province would have to clean up the mill before another company could take it over.

Michael told reporters she still had a lot of questions, including how soon the province will hear back, and how viable a proposal may be, from the German company.

She said until a proposal from the company is accepted by the province, the assets are virtually worthless.

"The (former Abitibi) assets mean nothing if the assets can't be ... turned into liquid assets," she said.

Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones told reporters it was only a week ago that the province told her industrial growth in central Newfoundland was flat.

"It's obviously relatively new, within the last few days," she said of the news.

"I don't think they did enough to try and save the mill in the first place," Jones added.

Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins said he was made aware of the tour, in strict confidence, by Dunderdale. He said he didn't even tell his wife.

But he said he's not getting too excited yet.

"These things don't happen overnight and everybody's got to do their due diligence," he told The Telegram Tuesday.

But he said it shows the province is doing what it can to find something to fill the void left by Abitibi.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Abitibi, Newfoundland and Labrador, Grand Falls-Windsor Germany Europe

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • P
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Someone go tell Yvonne Jones and Lorraine Michael's that their both poor and worthless except for the money they have in the bank. Tell them that their houses, cars, possessions etc. are worthless until they can prove to me that they can sell them to a designated buyer for a price that they believe they are worth. Because that's the exact same rationale that they are both applying here to the Mill, but I bet they'd both argue to differ that point of view with you because that's what they do. I say black they say white, but then I say white and they say they meant to say black. Give me a break. I wish someone would give the two stooges an economic lesson.

  • Citizen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    What a joke. It would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Who in their right mind would actually buy this old mill?? This is just smoke and mirrors to deflect from the disgraceful, mega million dollar snafu that this is. Sounds really profitable and legit!!

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    You have to know something about economics to be able to evaluate if someone needs a lesson. Just because someone looks at property doesn't mean they are going to buy. To get this company to take a serious look are we as Brian Peckford said going to Sell The Shop.

  • Mark D
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Minister Dunderdale's comment is both premature and inappropriate. What affect will this public admission have on the company and its decison-making?

    If this matter was before Cabinet for consideration, it would be a breech of Cabinet secrecy.

    Premature and inappropriate. I have to wonder what her motivation would be.

    Astounded Jones and Michaels, though.

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    This government is not BARGAINING from a position of STRENGTH . Any BROKERING will be to the benefit of the PURCHASER . The province will sustain damage , the best we can hope for is that it will be minimal .

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    This government reminds me of Joey's more and more every day. We all know what legacy that one left us...

  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Frank maybe you should get your numbers correct it was 30 million.

  • Frank M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    The provincial government should offer $15 million in operating money as it did for the mill in Corner Brook.

    That is only fair.

    Sorry Stephenville.

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Abitibi couldn't make a go of it with free power, discounted fiber costs and a low tax regime. I am taking Dunderdale's advice not to get excited - this latest event is nothing but a distraction from the financial mess that this government has created, or else it would have been announced earlier. The NL government would be better off selling the assets of the mill in the salvage market than trying to buy a new operator. Newprint is not going to recover, and the cost of refitting the mothballed mill for other paper products is too high.

  • Telling it like it is
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Don't get excited?

    This coming from the same province / people who saw home prices spike the day the MOU was signed for Hebron back in 2008 for an oil project that is 6-8 years away???

    Yes, we never jump the gun.

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    They are awfully quick to make announcements on projects that may never see the light of day, but it takes them alot longer to announce that they screwed up. All smoke and mirrors.

  • gerard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    In May 2009 the government asked for and recieved nine proposals on building a new forest industry in GFW. They were not looking for a new opperator for the mill because at that time they were trying to keep secret about the botched expropriation, and that they were the actual mill owners. There are at least two of the proposals in the final stages and close to being announced, however the government have been tight lipped over all thier negotiations with the companies for over a year.

    Now we have a government who are under constant pressure from a bundled expropriation and under the gun for a 200 million dollar toxic cleanup. We have a minister reporting to the GFW Advertiser that the gov is 99% sure the mill will be flattened (decomissioned). On the same day the Advertiser is published, minister Dunderdale replys to more criticism and reports that a German company has toured the mill, and will put in a propoasal on restarting it. The mill has been scavenged by Abitibi of very expensive computers and machine parts,vital to paper making. The gov owned the mill and allowed the stealing by Abitibi to continue, probally hoping the mill would never be able to run again once they finally admiitted the gov owned it.

    Considering the fact the gov released zero info on the other nine forestry proposals, and that one or two are about to be accepted,which means the timber is probably bargained for already. It seems like Danny is again taunting the hopes of GFW and Central by even announcing this news, something that he would usually never reveal under his open, honest government, and of course he hides out from this announcement untill he finds out whether it will ease some of the pressure or enhance it. I hope this is not just more political oppurtunism on the backs of exworkers and Central, because next year is election time again, and Danny would surely be losing the three amigoes. This should not have been annouced untill the gov viewed a business plan and had some clue as to what the company intended.

  • Newfie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    P from NL:

    Are you truly that stunned and brainwashed? I thought we had gotten more education than that over the years, you sound like my great grand father.

  • D
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Mark D says it will affect this companies decision how do you figure is my first question.Secondly if they didn't say anything at all it would be the government trying to hide something.Third and final thought newfoundlands want open an honest representation what a joke they want a welfare cheque and not have to work for what they have.

  • Spin Doctor
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    This story is an attempt to deflect criticism away from our government for the mistakes made with expropriation from Abitibi.

    Last week the Premier tells the house that even if we have to pay for the cleanup and the NAFTA penalty, the Province will still be better served for it.

    Now the Deputy Premier is telling the media and public that there are interested parties in the facility, but not to get too excited.

    Same thing happened back in the late 1980's when the Sprunf Greenhouse was an albatross to the Peckford government.

    Country singer Kenny Rogers toured the facility and there was a buzz he might buy into it.

    Never did happen and neither will this sales pitch to the German company.

    Simply, the markets for newsprint are getting smaller, the mill at Grand Falls needs technological upgrades and a non-unionised environment to have any chance of competing.

    This story is just spinning hope that really is not there.

    Cleanup the site, tear down the mill and bring in new industries to that region. That is the solution.

  • Randy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Who is running this German company( karl Heize Schober lol) Wouldn't surprise me.He dealt with Frank Moores ,and Danny Millions is no different

  • david
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    If the government admitted thier ownership of the mill in May 2009 when they discovered it, they could have offered the severance money plus the amount being offered to Kruger plus excellent hydro prices to any company interested in restarting. The mill had been cleaned up by the departing workers and would have run excellent. Now there are parts missing, time of inopperation has taken it's toll, and finally the gov is trying to market the mill, more smoke and mirrors and deflecting bad press at the expense and hopes of many in Central who are trying to move on, more Shame on Danny's government.

  • P
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Someone go tell Yvonne Jones and Lorraine Michael's that their both poor and worthless except for the money they have in the bank. Tell them that their houses, cars, possessions etc. are worthless until they can prove to me that they can sell them to a designated buyer for a price that they believe they are worth. Because that's the exact same rationale that they are both applying here to the Mill, but I bet they'd both argue to differ that point of view with you because that's what they do. I say black they say white, but then I say white and they say they meant to say black. Give me a break. I wish someone would give the two stooges an economic lesson.

  • Citizen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    What a joke. It would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Who in their right mind would actually buy this old mill?? This is just smoke and mirrors to deflect from the disgraceful, mega million dollar snafu that this is. Sounds really profitable and legit!!

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    You have to know something about economics to be able to evaluate if someone needs a lesson. Just because someone looks at property doesn't mean they are going to buy. To get this company to take a serious look are we as Brian Peckford said going to Sell The Shop.

  • Mark D
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Minister Dunderdale's comment is both premature and inappropriate. What affect will this public admission have on the company and its decison-making?

    If this matter was before Cabinet for consideration, it would be a breech of Cabinet secrecy.

    Premature and inappropriate. I have to wonder what her motivation would be.

    Astounded Jones and Michaels, though.

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    This government is not BARGAINING from a position of STRENGTH . Any BROKERING will be to the benefit of the PURCHASER . The province will sustain damage , the best we can hope for is that it will be minimal .

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    This government reminds me of Joey's more and more every day. We all know what legacy that one left us...

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Frank maybe you should get your numbers correct it was 30 million.

  • Frank M
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    The provincial government should offer $15 million in operating money as it did for the mill in Corner Brook.

    That is only fair.

    Sorry Stephenville.

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Abitibi couldn't make a go of it with free power, discounted fiber costs and a low tax regime. I am taking Dunderdale's advice not to get excited - this latest event is nothing but a distraction from the financial mess that this government has created, or else it would have been announced earlier. The NL government would be better off selling the assets of the mill in the salvage market than trying to buy a new operator. Newprint is not going to recover, and the cost of refitting the mothballed mill for other paper products is too high.

  • Telling it like it is
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Don't get excited?

    This coming from the same province / people who saw home prices spike the day the MOU was signed for Hebron back in 2008 for an oil project that is 6-8 years away???

    Yes, we never jump the gun.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    They are awfully quick to make announcements on projects that may never see the light of day, but it takes them alot longer to announce that they screwed up. All smoke and mirrors.

  • gerard
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    In May 2009 the government asked for and recieved nine proposals on building a new forest industry in GFW. They were not looking for a new opperator for the mill because at that time they were trying to keep secret about the botched expropriation, and that they were the actual mill owners. There are at least two of the proposals in the final stages and close to being announced, however the government have been tight lipped over all thier negotiations with the companies for over a year.

    Now we have a government who are under constant pressure from a bundled expropriation and under the gun for a 200 million dollar toxic cleanup. We have a minister reporting to the GFW Advertiser that the gov is 99% sure the mill will be flattened (decomissioned). On the same day the Advertiser is published, minister Dunderdale replys to more criticism and reports that a German company has toured the mill, and will put in a propoasal on restarting it. The mill has been scavenged by Abitibi of very expensive computers and machine parts,vital to paper making. The gov owned the mill and allowed the stealing by Abitibi to continue, probally hoping the mill would never be able to run again once they finally admiitted the gov owned it.

    Considering the fact the gov released zero info on the other nine forestry proposals, and that one or two are about to be accepted,which means the timber is probably bargained for already. It seems like Danny is again taunting the hopes of GFW and Central by even announcing this news, something that he would usually never reveal under his open, honest government, and of course he hides out from this announcement untill he finds out whether it will ease some of the pressure or enhance it. I hope this is not just more political oppurtunism on the backs of exworkers and Central, because next year is election time again, and Danny would surely be losing the three amigoes. This should not have been annouced untill the gov viewed a business plan and had some clue as to what the company intended.

  • Newfie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    P from NL:

    Are you truly that stunned and brainwashed? I thought we had gotten more education than that over the years, you sound like my great grand father.

  • D
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Mark D says it will affect this companies decision how do you figure is my first question.Secondly if they didn't say anything at all it would be the government trying to hide something.Third and final thought newfoundlands want open an honest representation what a joke they want a welfare cheque and not have to work for what they have.

  • Spin Doctor
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    This story is an attempt to deflect criticism away from our government for the mistakes made with expropriation from Abitibi.

    Last week the Premier tells the house that even if we have to pay for the cleanup and the NAFTA penalty, the Province will still be better served for it.

    Now the Deputy Premier is telling the media and public that there are interested parties in the facility, but not to get too excited.

    Same thing happened back in the late 1980's when the Sprunf Greenhouse was an albatross to the Peckford government.

    Country singer Kenny Rogers toured the facility and there was a buzz he might buy into it.

    Never did happen and neither will this sales pitch to the German company.

    Simply, the markets for newsprint are getting smaller, the mill at Grand Falls needs technological upgrades and a non-unionised environment to have any chance of competing.

    This story is just spinning hope that really is not there.

    Cleanup the site, tear down the mill and bring in new industries to that region. That is the solution.

  • Randy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Who is running this German company( karl Heize Schober lol) Wouldn't surprise me.He dealt with Frank Moores ,and Danny Millions is no different

  • david
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    If the government admitted thier ownership of the mill in May 2009 when they discovered it, they could have offered the severance money plus the amount being offered to Kruger plus excellent hydro prices to any company interested in restarting. The mill had been cleaned up by the departing workers and would have run excellent. Now there are parts missing, time of inopperation has taken it's toll, and finally the gov is trying to market the mill, more smoke and mirrors and deflecting bad press at the expense and hopes of many in Central who are trying to move on, more Shame on Danny's government.