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Natural Resources
March 24, 2009

Call for Expressions of Interest to be Issued for Former AbitibiBowater Fibre

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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Media contact:
Tracy Barron
Director of Communications
Department of Natural Resources
709-729-5282, 690-8241

2009 03 24                                                    4:25 p.m.

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