Canadian Manufacturing

Environmentalists to blame for Ontario, Quebec mill closures: Resolute

Resolute closing plant in Ontario, reducing capacity in Quebec, resulting in 300 job losses in both provinces



MONTREAL—Resolute Forest Products Inc. is axing 460,000 tonnes of newsprint production capacity in Canada through the closure of an Ontario mill and two paper machines in Quebec on weakened demand and “ill-founded attacks” from environmental groups.

According to Montreal-based Resolute, it is permanently closing its Iroquois Falls, Ont., newsprint mill, as well as two paper machines at plants in Baie-Comeau, Que., and Clermont, Que., due to “ongoing weakness in the global newsprint business,” and feedstock availability, costs and “transportation challenges.”

“Market conditions have had a major impact on our newsprint operations in both Ontario and Quebec, and the cost position of these operations has made them vulnerable to the structural decline in newsprint,” Resolute president and CEO Richard Garneau said in a release.

The mill in Iroquois Falls, about 70 kilometres northeast of Timmins, Ont., employs approximately 180 people and has an annual production capacity of 210,000 tonnes of newsprint, according to Resolute.

It will permanently close on Dec. 22.

The paper machine at the Baie-Comeau plant, which has already been idled, will close permanently as of Dec. 5, while the paper machine in Clermont, about 140 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, will close around the end of January.

Removing the two machines from operation will cut 255,000 tonnes of newsprint capacity, and will result in the close of 120 jobs at the two plants.

Resolute said high power costs and an infestation of spruce budworm contributed to the closures in Quebec, while “ill-founded attacks of environmental activist groups” played a role in the decisions in both provinces.

“Their inaccurate and deceptive campaigning, which misrepresents the company’s forest management practices, was also a factor,” said Garneau. “These campaigns are based on malicious falsehoods regarding Resolute’s overall compliance with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act in Ontario and the Sustainable Forest Development Act in Quebec, and overall sustainability leadership.

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