The Department of Natural Resources announced today
that a Call for Expressions of Interest (CFEI) will be issued to
determine the level of interest and economic development opportunities
that exist in the forest sector in central Newfoundland.
"We have received a number of requests from
individuals and companies looking for access to AbitibiBowater�s former
limits," said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural
Resources and Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods
Agency. "Individuals and companies who held permits or utilized the
resource on former AbitibiBowater limits to sustain their operations
will be allowed to continue, but no new allocations will be issued until
a proper scan of potential opportunities is done. We are not prepared to
reallocate that wood until we can determine what interest is out there
to utilize the saw logs and pulpwood, as well as the economic benefits
to the region and the industry of each potential proposal."
The department confirmed that commercial Crown permit
holders who were harvesting on former AbitibiBowater Transfer
Agreements, and who have demonstrated markets for harvested fibre, will
retain access to their previously allocated amounts. No increases in
those allocations will be permitted at this time until the potential
economic development opportunities for the fibre are explored.
"We need to approach the allocation of the fibre
formerly used directly by the newsprint sector in a comprehensive,
logical way that provides the best economic return for the people of the
region," said Minister Dunderdale. "We will not provide anyone access to
former AbitibiBowaters� timber without a well thought-out plan."
Officials with the department are now preparing the
Terms of Reference for the public CFEI.
The Provincial Government passed Bill 75, which
revoked timber and water rights from AbitibiBowater and returned them to
the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, on December 16, 2008. A
Ministerial Task Force has been established to respond to the closure of
the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor. As well, the recently formed Community
Development Committee will work closely with the task force and
Provincial Government officials to develop and implement strategies to
advance short- and long-term sector and project opportunities.
A Transition Team comprising officials within Nalcor
Energy and the Provincial Government has also been mobilized to
facilitate the smooth operation and transfer of hydro, timber and other
assets to the province.
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Director of Communications
Department of Natural Resources
2009 03 24