MONTREAL -- Resolute Forest Products plans to build an industrial wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay, Ont., that will turn residual material into a source of renewable energy.

The Montreal-based forestry company said construction of the plant is expected to begin shortly and should be completed in 2014. It will invest about $10 million into the plant and hire 24 new employees.

It said it has already signed a 10-year agreement to supply Ontario Power Generation with 45,000 metric tons of pellets annually.

The new plant will be adjacent to its sawmill in Thunder Bay.

"Wood pellets are a clean, renewable energy source, and together with other biofuel opportunities, a natural diversification target for Resolute," said Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer.

"This project provides the opportunity to enhance the use of our existing asset base to produce biofuel for a strategic, committed consumer and allows the company to gain valuable manufacturing experience in commercial biomass production."

Earlier this week, the company announced it is idling a kraft mill and paper machine at its pulp and paper plant in Fort Frances, Ont., due to what it calls challenging market conditions.

It is shuttering the mill indefinitely as the market for specialty printing papers is expected to remain tenuous. About 239 employees will be affected.

The company said the shutdown is expected to be completed by late November.

It had also announced the lay off of 111 employees as it permanently shut down a paper machine at its Laurentide mill in Shawinigan, Que., after a drop in demand for the type of paper produced on that specific machine.

Resolute Forest, formerly known as AbitibiBowater, produces newsprint, commercial printing papers, market pulp and wood products.

The company owns or operates 22 pulp and paper mills and 22 wood products mills in Canada, the United States and South Korea.

Shares in the company shed 27 cents to $10.86 in Thursday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.