What is the heritage value of the Québec forest? Despite its inestimable ecological wealth and its immense value as the most precious heritage that we must imperatively bequeath to the greatest number of future generations, the Québec forest does not seem to mobilize the same attention or the same fiber as others in our jewels of identity.
Posted at 6:30 am
Three months ago, Papier Excellence, owned by a wealthy Indonesian family, acquired Resolute, Quebec’s leading forestry producer, in a $2.7 billion transaction.
This takeover bid for the Indonesian group, already active in the pulp and paper industry in Canada, France and South America, came just a year after Papier Excellence acquired the company Domtar, in a $3 deal. billion in May 2021.
Although Domtar was acquired in 2007 by the American company Weyerhaeuser, it had, and still has, strong Quebec roots with its administrative center in Montreal, where 425 people work, and its pulp and paper plant in Windsor, in the townships of East, as well as its 160,000 hectares of private forest.
With the acquisition of Résolu and its 25 sawmills and processing plants in Quebec, Papier Excellence will become by far the most important player in the forestry industry in Quebec and, above all, the largest operator of Quebec’s forestry resources .
which is nothing Papier Excellence will have the largest forest harvesting capacity in Quebec, with a guaranteed supply of 4.5 million cubic meters per year of trees harvested from public lands in Quebec, which represents almost 30% of the total forest harvesting capacity. forest industry in Quebec.
To these hundreds of thousands of hectares of public forest to which Papier Excellence will have access, we must add the 160,000 hectares of private forest that it has owned since the acquisition of Domtar last year.
Which is a lot of Quebec forest for a foreign company, and this largesse from the Quebec regime doesn’t seem to move anyone, but it irritates some Quebec producers who believe that we dispose of an important and patrimonial resource too freely.
Papier Excellence plans to supply the Asian market with the kraft pulp produced by Résolu in Saint-Félicien, this pulp which is used in the manufacture of tissue paper, because it is made from Nordic softwood fibers and is of superior high quality.
Local producers are therefore surprised that Quebec public opinion has not been mobilized as it was when Chinese producers wanted to exploit rare earth deposits in northern Quebec.
Or when, a dozen years ago, there were rumors that Chinese investors were taking advantage of the lack of succession in Quebec farms to buy farmland en masse. The reaction had been as quick as it was loud before the rumor had died down on its own.
a sustained activity
This is not the case with Papier Excellence’s acquisition of Resolute. The fact that an Asian company is about to be the main beneficiary of the forest resource in Quebec will not change the reality of the producing regions.
Because, of course, Papier Excellence will transform in situ all the forestry activities to which it is dedicated and the economic benefits will continue to be the same as those already benefiting the regions where forestry activity continues to be the main source of income.
No forestry company would export freshly felled trees, without any processing, that would not make sense, it is not the industry model, which is based on processing.
But the fact is that the sale of Resolute to a foreign company reminds us that the forest is a public good and that it must also be exploited for the public good.
When the transaction between Papier Excellence and Résolu was made public on July 6, I lamented the fact that Résolu, a Quebec company with roots in Quebec, with its well-established headquarters in Montreal, was the subject of the consolidation.
Resolute had been the consolidator of the industry up to that point, in a journey that spanned more than 200 years.
The fact that Papier Excellence already has a Canadian headquarters, in Richmond, British Columbia, also led me to wonder about the relative weight that Resolute and Domtar’s two Quebec headquarters in Montreal might hold in the future.
Both Resolute and Domtar wanted to reassure that the activities of their respective sites would continue as the two companies operate in different sectors, wood, newsprint and tissue paper for Resolute, fine paper and gift wrap for Domtar.
Now it remains to be seen how diligently the new owners of Resolute will manage the large forestry capacity they will inherit and which also constitutes the heritage of the entire Quebec community.
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