Thurso, March 26, 2010 - Québec Premier Jean Charest and the Minister for Transport, Minister responsible for the Outaouais region and MNA for Papineau, Norman MacMillan, announced today a $102.4 million interest-bearing loan to Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. (FSCI) for its Thurso facility, formerly owned by Fraser Papers Inc. Awarded through Investissement Québec, the financial assistance will be used to convert the former pulp mill for cellulose production.
With a total estimated value of nearly $175 million, the FSCI initiative is designed to convert the Thurso mill from a facility that manufactures kraft pulp for paper into a cellulose pulp production facility and to set up a cogeneration power plant. The plant's new product targets the viscose fibre (rayon) market, which is showing strong worldwide growth. Viscose fibre is most often blended with cotton, wool and polyester fibre to produce textiles and knits for the apparel industry.
"Putting the Thurso mill back into production is good news for the forest industry and part of an industrial development strategy that focuses on high value-added products," declared the Premier. "The success of this operation will no doubt serve as a model for the forest industry's future," he added.
On the employment front, the outlook for the conversion project is bright. In addition to enabling the facility to call back 290 employees who worked for Fraser Papers, it will also help maintain some 1,500 direct and indirect jobs in the forest industry and throughout regional businesses.
"I am very pleased with today's announcement, not only for the region but also for the forest industry. Fortress's project proves that it is possible to find promising new solutions to help stimulate the forest industry and the Outaouais region's economy," said Minister Norman MacMillan.
"We are pleased to receive the Québec government's support for the conversion of the Thurso mill. Fortress is confident that this undertaking will be a success, given Québec's favourable business environment and the positive outlook for world markets," affirmed Mr. Chad Wasilenkoff, President and CEO of Fortress Specialty Cellulose and Fortress Paper.
In addition to converting the mill for an industry that offers greater potential for long-term growth, the project will keep the city of Thurso's water treatment plant in operation with no additional investments. In fact, all the necessary equipment can be found at the mill.
The Thurso facility was mothballed in June 2009, resulting in layoffs for 330 people in the single-industry municipality. The closing also had a major impact on the forestry activities of some 30 Québec companies.
About the Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation
The department's mission is to support economic development, innovation, export trade and research by fostering coordinated and concerted efforts by stakeholders representing the economic, scientific, social and cultural arenas. In so doing, it seeks to promote job creation, economic prosperity, scientific development and sustainable development.
In addition, the department portfolio encompasses various government corporations, agencies and funding bodies, including Investissement Québec.