The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC) issued a statement last week commending ND Paper LLC’s twin announcements that it will invest $111 million in its Rumford mill over the next two years to increase production capacity, and plans to purchase the idled Old Town bleached kraft pulp mill with an eye toward restarting the facility and producing unbleached softwood pulp there.
The announcements by ND Paper, the newly formed U.S.-based subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd., are good news for Maine’s loggers and log truckers, according to Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine.
“Maine loggers and log truckers are highly skilled and hardworking, but they need dependable markets for Maine wood to succeed in today’s global forest economy,” Doran said. “These investments by Nine Dragons will increase demand for Maine wood, including for softwood pulp which is very welcome news in a state that has lost a significant portion of its softwood pulp market due to mill closures in recent years. The investments also represent a vote of confidence in Maine’s workforce and wood resource, and we applaud ND Paper for recognizing the value in both.”
The investments are timely given the recent announcement by FOR/Maine (Forest Opportunity Roadmap), a coalition including the PLC that is working to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract capital investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for communities impacted by recent mill closures, of an action plan to grow Maine’s forest economy from the current $8.5 billion (annual) to $12 billion by 2025. The investments announced by ND Paper show that this growth is not only possible, but already beginning to occur, Doran said.
Growth in wood markets means Maine must now begin planning for sustaining and expanding the logger and trucker workforce in the state, Doran said.
“These announcements by ND Paper and recent investments by other mill owners in Maine including Sappi North America’s $200 million upgrade at its Somerset Mill in Skowhegan show that Maine’s logging industry and the wood it supplies to mills like these remains vital to our economy, and we need to start investing in the future of that industry, including the training of future loggers and truckers, the infrastructure they need to operate effectively, and the business climate they need to succeed.”
PHOTO: Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine