Resolute Forest Products to restart Ignace, Ont., sawmill

Two years after it was closed because of poor market conditions, the sawmill in Ignace,  Ont., should be up and running in February.

Resolute Forest Products will restart the operation on February 8, said Seth Kursman, the vice president of corporate communications, sustainability and government affairs.

He said a handful of employees have been working at the facility since it was closed, keeping the sawmill maintained and ready for a restart. The ongoing maintenance cost Resolute about $125,000 a month, he said.

When the sawmill starts up, about 25 employees will work at the plant, on one shift, plus those who work in harvesting operations and transportation.

A better lumber market, and, a “stronger level of optimism now than we had before,” are the reasons the mill will reopen, Kursman said. He also credited the provincial government’s forest strategy and a stable wood supply as factors.

The eventual goal is to staff up to a second shift in several months, which would have 50 employees at the mill. Eventually another half-shift will be added, bringing total employment to 60.

Resolute Forest Products invested $20 million in its Ignace, Ont., sawmill in 2014, but the plant was shuttered in 2019. It is slated to reopen in 2021. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The reopening will also provide five new jobs at the Resolute sawmill near Atikokan, as the company is planning on, “taking wood from Ignace, and drying it in the kilns in Atikokan.”

Dressing the lumber produced in Ignace will also take place in Atikokan, Kursman said.

Getting the existing kilns at the Ignace mill operational would cost the company about $1.5 million, he said.

When running at full capacity, the Ignace mill can produce 90 million board feet of lumber per year.

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