Lebel-sur-Quévillon, January 31, 2012 - Québec Premier Jean Charest, together with Pierre Corbeil, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Nord-du-Québec regions, and Member for Abitibi-Est, has announced an investment of $232.7 million to restart operations at Lebel-sur-Quévillon's pulp and paper mill. The project will create over 300 direct jobs at the facility and nearly 400 indirect jobs in the forestry and transportation sectors.
Through Investissement Québec, the Government of Québec will provide a $132.4 million loan to be repaid over a ten-year term. This financial assistance, which comes from the Economic Development Fund managed by the Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation (MDEIE), is a targeted intervention designed to help a business sector experiencing significant difficulties.
"Supporting workers and communities is the first step in making the economy our priority, and that is precisely what our government is doing here," said Premier Charest. "Today's announcement is excellent news for the entire Lebel-sur-Quévillon community. This project will enable plant production capacities to be repurposed to accommodate the cellulose pulp sector, which offers better prospects for long-term development. Worldwide growth in the market for cellulose pulp represents a major economic opportunity for Québec, especially with regard to implementation of the Plan Nord, an ambitious project that will stimulate the development of Northern Québec's full socio-economic potential," he added.
"Having the mill up and running again is excellent news for the workforce in Lebel-sur-Quévillon and the surrounding area, as well as for businesses and the forestry sector," Pierre Corbeil said. "Lebel-sur-Quévillon was hit hard by the plant's closing, and this will help spur a comeback in a town whose economy relies heavily on the forest industry. It will also encourage young workers to return to the area and help it remain vibrant and competitive," he noted.
Fortress Global Cellulose Ltd., a subsidiary of the Canadian company Fortress Paper Ltd., has been publicly traded since 2006. Its three facilities, located in Thurso (Outaouais), Switzerland, and Germany, specialize in the production of security paper (used in banknotes, passports and visas) and decorative paper.
"The acquisition of the Lebel-sur-Quévillon pulp mill and its upcoming conversion into a dissolving pulp operation are important milestones in Fortress Paper's mission to become a world leader in this industry," said Chadwick Wasilenkoff, chairman and chief executive officer of Fortress Paper Ltd. "This project proves that the Government of Québec and Fortress Paper have demonstrated their insight and tenacity to take advantage of a singular opportunity that has lain dormant for many years. Once brought to fruition, it will inject new energy into the community of Lebel-sur-Quévillon and the neighbouring areas of northern Québec. We are delighted to be partnering with Investissement Québec on this project and to put to good use the experience we acquired during the recent successful conversion of the Thurso facility. We also look forward to working closely with the city of Lebel-sur-Quévillon," Wasilenkoff added.
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Office of the Premier
Office of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue
and Nord-du-Québec regions
Media Relations Officer
Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation
418-691-5698, ext. 4868
1 866 870-0437