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August 9, 2006
(Natural Resources)

No interest expressed in Stephenville mill

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 // for 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                                                9:25 a.m.

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