Developer awaits provincial facility licence on $500M Bonfield sawmill.

Date01 August 2019
AuthorKelly, Lindsay

Now that the public comment period for a proposed $300-million sawmill in Bonfield, east of North Bay, has closed, its developer awaits a decision from the province, which would give him the go-ahead to start construction.

On May 28, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) posted an outline of the International Wood Industries (IWI) project on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, giving members of the public 30 days to provide feedback on the sawmill and its expected impact on the area.

"We did start this process over a year ago, and there were lots of questions along the way," said project proponent Gary Medwid.

"We addressed them as they came up, and we finally were able to get to a point where (the ministry) agreed to recommend approval of the licence to the minister of natural resources, subject to a 30-day public posting."

That input period closed on June 27, and the province is now tasked with vetting those comments as it weighs the overall merits of the project.

Announced in July 2017, the project calls for IWI, operating as Bonfield Forest Products, to construct a $300-million state-of-the-art wood processing facility that would annually consume roughly 400,000 cubic metres of hardwood and softwood fibre.

Wood is proposed to come from the Nipissing Forest, the Algonquin Park Forest and the Temagami Management Unit, in addition to private land.

If approved, the facility is expected to produce approximately 90 million board feet of product per year and is anticipated to employ 90 people to start.

Medwid said he's already got people lined up for key management positions, including mill manager, chief financial officer, construction manager, maintenance manager, sales and marketing director, director of corporate affairs and communications, and a forester.

Those people are currently working in other capacities, but are ready to come on board once the facility is approved to go ahead, Medwid said. Those managers will then be responsible for filling out the staff.

"We're also going to have some of our own harvesting operations, so we have to staff that up as well," he said.

The mill's end products would include conifer dimensional lumber, hardwood lumber, and red and white pine timbers for home construction, in addition to hardwood flooring, red and white pine tongue-and-groove boards and decking, pallet stock, mouldings, and fuelwood.

With close proximity to major, growing markets like Ottawa and Toronto, Bonfield Wood...

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