August 9, 2006
No interest expressed in
Natural Resources Minister Kathy
Dunderdale said today that while no buyer has been found for the Abitibi-Consolidated
mill in Stephenville and the decommissioning process has begun,
government remains committed to the region and to finding new, diverse
areas of opportunity.
“Unfortunately no interest has been expressed in the mill. A number of
value-added options have been identified for the Stephenville area and
are being explored, but a new operator for the mill itself has not been
found,” Minister Dunderdale said. “If an interested buyer for the mill
does come forward, government will do what it can to facilitate a
negotiation with Abitibi. At this point, however, no one has expressed
an interest given the state of the pulp and paper industry globally.”
Government retained a consultant to pursue a number of options related
to the mill, including the possibility of finding a new operator and
other forestry-related options for Stephenville. Over 20 major companies
around the world were contacted directly during this process.
“I am unfortunately not surprised at this information, given the
widespread knowledge of the challenges this industry is facing
worldwide,” said Minister Joan Burke, MHA for the District of St.
George's-Stephenville East. “Perhaps now that this matter is settled we
can all fully concentrate our efforts on diversifying and strengthening
our economy. We remain fully committed to working with the community and
many advancements have already been made through the task force. While
disappointing news, this certainly does not mean the end of our region.”
A ministerial committee is leading a task force made up of senior
government officials from various departments and a community
development committee of regional representatives. The task force is
overseeing a development and diversification strategy for the region.
The community development committee is exploring a number of value-added
options that have been identified for the region, with technical support
being provided by staff of the Department of Natural Resources.
Abitibi-Consolidated has completed its Phase I Environmental Site
Assessment of the mill site and has registered its decommissioning plan
with the Department of Environment and Conservation. The relevant
documents have now been posted on the government web site at
public comment. The company’s intention is to begin the decommissioning
later this year.
Media contact: Tracy Barron, Communications, (709) 729-5282, 690-1703
2006 08 09