Ignace, Ontario may regain its identity as a forestry town with AbitibiBowater planning to reopen an idled sawmill. The company recently announced its plans to invest $32 million to upgrade the northwestern Ontario mill with plans to resume operations by early 2014.

The company plans to add a new energy system and kilns to dry lumber, along with a planer and packaging system to make finished lumber that’s ready for market. Once the sawmill is operating, it will supply both the Canadian and the U.S. market, according to company officials. It will also contribute to improving the cost of fiber for pulp and paper mills in Thunder Bay and Fort Frances.

The mill closed in late 2006, affecting 49 staff and contractor positions. At the time, poor market conditions and insufficient quote allocations for sawmills stemming from the Canada-U.S. Softwood Agreement were blamed for the indefinite shutdown.

AbitibiBowater said the investment is subject to reach an “acceptable labor agreement” with the United Steelworkers Union and finalizing an agreement on municipal matters with the Township of Ignace.