As it has in the past with a $10-million investment, Derrick Dalley said the province will do all that it can to support the community of Roddickton-Bide Arm and Holson Forest Products.
“We want the forest industry to be alive and well on the Northern Peninsula and we want people working, so anything we can do to support that we’ll do, you know within reason obviously,” said Dalley, the minister of Natural Resources.
“They’re important for the Northern Peninsula and they’re important for the forest industry, so we’ve always had on our radar to find new opportunities and new options for them.”
Dalley was reacting to a letter he received last week from Sheila Fitzgerald, the mayor of the northeast Northern Peninsula community.
In the letter, Fitzgerald asked the minister for help for her community, specifically for the Holson Forest Products Ltd. pellet plant.
She told The Western Star the letter was prompted by reports the province is investing in building a pellet plant and improving infrastructure in the central region, while the plant in her community sits idle.
Dalley said officials with his department have contacted Fitzgerald and explained some things about that process to her.
One key thing is that Holson is part of discussions with the province and Rentech Inc. regarding fibre development in the province.
Rentech is the company that was selected for further discussions following the issuing of an expression of interest in developing the province’s fibre supply, particularly in central and what was expropriated from Abitibi.
Dalley said there has been no definite proposal submitted or funding committed with regards to central.
“At this point it’s still open for discussion and negotiation,” Dalley said, adding the same goes for Rentech and Holson.
“Full details of that certainly are not public, because there’s nothing finalized.”
Dalley couldn’t say if Rentech is looking to work with, or take over, Holson.
“That remains to be seen as to exactly how that will work, but I do know that Holson and Rentech are certainly having significant discussion and I think both would be players in any future opportunities that are there,” the minister said.
As for the mayor’s letter, Dalley said he appreciates Fitzgerald’s interest.
“That’s what we want — community leaders that are keenly interested in developing their communities. She’s obviously advocating for her community and I certainly support that.”
Dalley is open to meeting with Fitzgerald and trying to arrange a meeting with Rentech for her to get a better understanding of what’s happening.
Meanwhile, Todd May, general manager of the Holson pellet plant, told The Western Star that the company is working on something, but said he was not in a position to comment at this time.