(Fredericton) The New Brunswick Forest Products Association (NBFPA) welcomes today’s announcement by Victor Boudreau, Minister of Finance and Donald Arseneault, Minister of Natural Resources on the financial reprieve for provincial paper mills.
The forest sector is an integrated value chain of people and communities – foresters, truckers, harvesters, sawmills and more. The paper mills are the anchors that help sustain 18,000 direct jobs in the forest products sector.
Terry Noble, chairman of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association and the general manager for fibre procurement for Fraser Papers endorsed the announcement.
“The entire energy issue is challenging for the forest sector and the government,” commented Noble. “Our members and government have spent countless hours on this issue and to everyone’s credit we have reached a compromise that will work. This announcement is a positive testament to a partnership process between this government and the forest industry. They deserve full credit for developing an innovative solution to a complex challenge.”
“Many of our members have made considerable investments and progress to become more energy efficient. The government’s announcement provides member companies more time to continue this work of implementing the energy conservation initiatives that will help mitigate the trend toward rising power and fuel costs,” said Noble.
Mark Arsenault, president of the Association said the timing for the good news announcement is critical and shows the government’s commitment to the forest sector.
“These are truly challenging times in our industry where we are facing a 38% gap between New Brunswick producers and the North American average energy rate for competing pulp and paper companies. Today’s decision narrows the gap. This announcement is a credit to the government who recognizes the challenge, and stepped up to find solutions. It is a clear indication that progress can result from open and frank discussions,” stated Arsenault.
The announcement, according to Arsenault, will have a positive affect throughout the entire industry. Helping to sustain paper mill operations will have benefits for many other operations such as sawmills and contractors who supply the mills with forest by-products such as wood chips. A recent CIBC study indicates that approximately 30% of the revenue of a sawmill comes from chips and residue supplied to pulp and paper. More than $350 million in local expenditures are made by the paper mills in New Brunswick.
Today’s announcement helps this network of jobs and communities to weather the current challenges. In the longer term, the true cost of providing electricity to New Brunswick’s manufacturers needs to be addressed through an open and transparent process. The paper mills are the lowest cost customers to serve, with 24/7 dependable requirements for energy.
The New Brunswick Forest Products Association represents over 50 forestry companies throughout the province.
For more information contact:
Terry Noble, Chairman
New Brunswick Forest Products Association