No commitment from minister on future of ‘white elephant’ pellet plant

James McLeod
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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.”



Organizations: Abitibi-Bowater.With that

Geographic location: Roddickton, U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Duffy
    May 12, 2014 - 18:28

    It would be funny if it wasn't our tax dollar being flushed down the toilet on these projects. I want to live in Mommy's back yard and work across the street make work projects for people that want to earn their EI for the next 30 years. 10 million to build a plant where the product is sent overseas and the profits go back to the states - great idea. Maybe next year mushroom plants or cucumbers or sugar cane or corn crops or telemarketing or................................. Thank goodness for Bill 29 so this can be kept secret and God Bless the hard working 52 weeks a year people who pay for this fiasco.

  • Betty
    May 10, 2014 - 16:06

    @ A Business man, you wouldn't know your butt from a hole in the ground, I got this funny feeling about you business man, your living of the government purse, Along with Corporate Psycho. Its people like yourselves who like to hear yourselves talk, But never offer any solution to the problems. I have to agree with this guy Charles. Its can be viable, All we need is someone to point us into the right direction. If I was the community leader, I would try and find out this guy is, Seek his ideas concerning this plant,

    • a business man
      May 13, 2014 - 15:03

      Clearly you missed the point of my post. I will not offer any solutions because I want the plant to fail. It will allow me to say "I told you so". I am not interested in pointing you in the right direction. My best interests are actually served by you going in the wrong direction. So keep it up, I hope the plant fails. I am not interested in a local forestry industry, and I am not interested in creating local jobs in any city that is not St. John's. So here, I would rather see the resource extracted and then processed in the USA. Therefore, I am best served by stating that this situation is the reason why the wood pellet plant should never get another penny, even if this leads to its closure.

  • Curious
    May 10, 2014 - 09:25

    10 million dollars of tax payers money gone into a wood pellet plant and it doesn't even get off the ground.How was this money spent.

  • Charles
    May 09, 2014 - 05:07

    Now you know why, your community's are dying, Lack of leadership. Can this pellet plant be viable, answer is yes, Just ask Dwight Ball,

  • Corporate Psycho
    May 07, 2014 - 17:38

    A ten million dollar investment of taxpayers money that failed miserably and it's a good thing?

    • a business man
      May 10, 2014 - 11:03

      YES, it is a great thing that we lost $10 million because now we can use this experience to oppose tax dollars being invested in private corporations. IN other words, it is a good thing that we lost this money because I can now use this story as fodder for my agenda.

  • Susan
    May 07, 2014 - 05:01

    Chris, never mind the PC's ...Offer us the Liberals solution...