It's been long speculated, and now it is a reality. The province has purchased almost all of the assets owned by Resolute Forest Products, including the Bowater Mersey Mill and Brooklyn Power Corporation.
Bowater Mersey's downtime has been extended a week, due to market conditions. The mill will reopen on Jan. 16.
Premier Darrell Dexter said he heard from many people that they wanted the province to buy the land, from those who wanted to see it protected to those who thought it would be an economic driver. However the common thread between all of them was the fear that outside hands would take the assets out of the province.
"(This deal) blocks the possibility of a private owner coming in and stripping the land."
The deal includes:
-- 555,000 acres of commercial and protected woodlands, including the Medway, Rossignol and St. Margaret's Bay districts. An independent evaluation pegs the land's fair market value at $117.7 million or $212 per acre. About 30,000 acres will be protected.
-- The former Bowater mill site in Brooklyn, Queen's Co., including bio-refining machines, valued at $5 million. The site will be transformed into a research, demonstration and development centre of excellence and innovation in cleaner energy, bioenergy and forestry products and technology.
-- Brooklyn Power Corp., a 30-megawatt biomass generating facility. The province will sell Brooklyn Power to Emera for $25 million in order to protect ratepayers from the termination of the current Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which expires in 2025.
The Oakhill Sawmill was not included in the deal because it would conflict with the softwood lumber agreement Canada has with the United States.
More details of what will happen to the mill site will be released on Wednesday.
The deal also secures the pensions of around 1,000 workers, who were left unsure where their plans stood when the mill closed, said Premier Dexter in a conference on Tuesday morning.
It was suggested by the opposition that the province should just expropriate the land from Resolute, however Premier Dexter dismissed that idea as too costly.
In Newfoundland where assets were expropriated, the federal government paid out a $130 million settlement to the company for a claim filed under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Newfoundland was also left with $100 million in environmental cleanup.