April 15, 2005
Government meets with
Abitibi to discuss future operations
Premier Danny Williams and Ed Byrne,
Minister of Natural Resources, met yesterday with John Weaver,
President and Chief Executive Officer of Abitibi Consolidated
Incorporated (ACI), to discuss the future of the company�s mills in
Stephenville and Grand Falls-Windsor.
"Our government is keenly aware of the feeling of uncertainty being
experienced by workers at the two mills during Abitibi�s current
review of its operations in the province," said Minister Byrne. "Our
government is also concerned about the future direction of those
operations, so we welcomed the opportunity to meet with Mr. Weaver
and his officials to discuss in detail ACI�s plans for the future.
From government�s perspective, we made it very clear to Mr. Weaver
that this government will do everything reasonably within our power
to ensure the future viability of these mills which are economic
engines in those regions of the province."
Government reiterated to Mr. Weaver government�s position that
Abitibi maintain a three-machine operation in the province.
"Government�s position has been clearly stated publicly, and we
reiterated it to Abitibi yesterday," said Minister Byrne. "If the
company chooses to close the number seven machine in Grand
Falls-Windsor, government will indeed impose the legislation
governing those operations, and revoke the company�s timber licences.
I don�t think this will be in anyone�s best interest."
ACI has stated publicly that one of the main issues in terms of the
operations in Newfoundland and Labrador is power supply. As such,
they are proposing the construction of a hydro development in the
province which would include a power purchase agreement.
"We told the company that we are willing to discuss the possibility
of a power purchase agreement," added Minister Byrne. "Our main
priority is to act in the best interests of people of the province,
particularly those in communities dependent on ACI's operations, and
any potential agreement must achieve this objective."
Minister Byrne said the meeting was a good discussion and government
will continue an open dialogue with Abitibi as the process moves
Media contact: Carmel Turpin, Natural Resources, (709) 729-5282,
2005 04 15