Decision on fibre proposal expected in new year

Krysta Carroll
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There may finally be a plan for using the wood fibre resource in central Newfoundland.

Derrick Dalley.

“We’ve gone through an expression of interest, we’ve gone through two processes actually, to determine if we can develop the central fibre resources for the benefit of the central Newfoundland economy, as well as for the benefit of the sustainability of the forest industry,” Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley said recently.

He said there were originally 14 proposals, which were narrowed down to two.

“We requested a detailed business plan from two. One of the proponents withdrew, and there’s one left that we’re anticipating will submit a business plan,” Dalley said.

The minister said that plan will be reviewed to determine if it benefits the central Newfoundland economy, and can be “integrated and contribute to the sustainably of the forest industry.”

The evaluation will look at the company’s financial resources, its harvesting strategy, its ability to integrate with the existing forest industry, the economic benefits, the experience and knowledge of the proponents, and other factors.

Dalley said the government’s priorities are “first and foremost, recognizing the shutdown of Abitibi (paper mill) and the impact it had on an entire central region.”

There are 280,000 cubic metres of fibre available annually as well as access to assets of the former paper mill.

Dalley said it will likely be early 2014 before the province makes a decision.

Debate about the fibre resource surfaced in the House of Assembly recently, when Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce raised questions about the pellet plant in Roddickton.

He asked if the company that had obtained millions of dollars in government funding to set up the pellet plant is the same company that has submitted a proposal for the Abitibi properties in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Dalley responded by saying, “That is still confidential information … but I can assure the member … that we will do all we can to ensure that (the Abitibi site) becomes commercially viable.”

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Geographic location: Newfoundland, Abitibi

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