Dignitaries attended a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday for a $17-million upgrade at Resolute Forest Products’ sawmill at Fort William First Nation.

The project, which was announced last August, is to improve log and lumber handling capabilities, create 30 new jobs and increase the mill’s capacity by as much as 40 million board feet, an earlier news release said.

Fort William Chief Peter Collins, who attended Friday’s ceremony, remarked earlier on the community’s continued “mutually beneficial” collaboration with Resolute.

“We have worked together on the sawmill for two decades in a true spirit of partnership,” Collins said when the upgrade was announced.

According to Resolute’s website, the Darrell Avenue sawmill operation employs 272 people, annually producing 330 million board feet of lumber and 45,000 tonnes of wood pellets.

Resolute directly employs 900 people at its Thunder Bay, Ignace and Atikokan operations.