April 27, 2005
disappointed in Abitibi decision
Ed Byrne, Minister of Natural
Resources, said that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is
disappointed with the announcement today of Abitibi Consolidated
Inc. regarding the future of its operations in this province.
Earlier today, Abitibi announced that it was moving forward with a
reorganization plan of its Newfoundland and Labrador operations
which would result in the eventual closure of one of the papermaking
machines at Grand Falls-Windsor.
"Clearly, this decision of Abitibi is not welcomed by this
government," said Minister Byrne. "It was our hope that following a
year and a half of discussions with Abitibi and our government�s
indication to the company that we would do everything reasonably
within our power to ensure the future viability of the Stephenville
and Grand Falls-Windsor mills, Abitibi�s decision today would have
provided some certainty to its employees."
Furthermore, Minister Byrne reiterated that during these discussions
with Abitibi, there was no indication that Abitibi was also taking a
serious look at its operations in Grand Falls-Windsor until such
time when the company announced early this year that it was
undertaking operational reviews of both of its mills in
"We reminded Abitibi that there is legislation which was put into
effect in 2002 that provides Abitibi with its timber licences until
2010 with the condition that it retain the operation of two
papermaking machines in Grand Falls-Windsor," said Minister Byrne.
"And, our message was clear that we intended to invoke that
legislation should Abitibi make a decision to close one of those
machines. That message was again sent to Abitibi when we met
recently with its president and CEO, John Weaver, on April 14."
Minister Byrne said the statement issued today by Abitibi does not
provide any information as to when the company intends to close one
of the machines in Grand Falls-Windsor. He indicated he will be
seeking some clarity on those timelines when he speaks with
officials of Abitibi over the next day or so.
"What is very clear is the legislation which states that, in order
for the company to continue to harvest wood on its government-issued
timber licences, then it has to keep two machines going in Grand
Falls-Windsor until 2010," said Minister Byrne. "We will uphold that
Media contact: Carmel Turpin, Communications, (709) 729-5282, (709)
2005 04 27