In the House of Assembly Tuesday, Northern Peninsula MHA Christopher Mitchelmore wanted to know what the government is doing to get the wood pellet plant in his district working.
Despite the government pouring $10 million in funding into the Roddickton plant, it has never commercially produced wood pellets.
“Are you committed to ensuring the forestry resources on the Great Northern Peninsula mean local jobs and value-added products, or are you content with another white elephant?” Mitchelmore asked in the House.
Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalely responded that a $10- million investment is pretty good, even if it didn’t all work out in the end.
“Mr. Speaker, I think I could go around this House and speak to every member and every single member in this House would welcome a $10-million investment from government,” Dalley said.
But there’s a new player in the picture. U.S. wood pellet producer Rentech is wants to move into the province, and is negotiating with the provincial government to use the timber rights once owned by paper producer Abitibi-Bowater.
With that in mind, Mitchelmore wanted an assurance Tuesday the Roddickton plant won’t get cut out of the deal.
“With millions invested in the Roddickton pellet plant, what actions are you prepared to take to ensure that our public resources can capitalize on growing market demands?” he said.
Mitchelmore didn’t get much in the way of an answer.
“We are optimistic about its future,” Dalley said. “We are working with a major company, Mr. Speaker, with major assets to come in and help stabilize the forest industry. Not just for the Northern Peninsula, but for the entire province.”