AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage pegged chances for the revival of a Bucksport mill at “little to none” on Wednesday, calling the company that closed the mill last year “bottom feeders” and saying the company has lost his respect and should leave Maine.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. denied a union’s request to block the mill’s sale over antitrust concerns, clearing the way for Verso Paper to sell the mill and an attached power plant to a subsidiary of American Iron and Metal, a Quebec scrap metal recycler.

“I have no respect for them at all,” LePage said of Verso after giving a speech to the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve lost all respect for bottom feeders.”

In December, Verso shut down the mill, citing high energy costs and a dwindling market. More than 500 employees were laid off. The Tennessee-based company still runs a mill in Jay that employs 850 people and recently completed a $1.4-billion merger with its former rival, NewPage Holdings.

Woodcock’s decision came after a last-ditch effort to recruit buyers that would restart the mill. By this week, three companies indicated interest in buying it in letters to the court, and LePage’s office said it was working to find a buyer who would make paper there.

However, Woodcock ruled that those letters weren’t offers to buy the mill and were too vague to change his decision. After the chamber event at the Senator Inn and Spa in Augusta on Wednesday, largely reserved for talk about his proposed budget, LePage told a reporter that he thought Woodcock made the right legal decision by allowing the sale.

But when asked what the chances were that the mill would restart, LePage said, “Little to none,” though John Butera, his economic adviser, said that the governor’s office will continue to try to link potential buyers to American Iron and Metal in hope that they can make a deal for the mill.

LePage has been particularly critical of a contract awarded to Verso in 2011 that he has said amounted to millions in state subsidies to sell electricity generated at the mill’s power plant to Central Maine Power. LePage said those benefits were intended to keep employees at work.

On Wednesday, the governor said it “would be better” if Verso “just left our whole state, never to be seen again.” Bill Cohen, a Verso spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

With the sale expected soon, the mill’s future is unclear: Herb Black, owner of American Iron and Metal, told the Portland Press Herald on Sunday that’d he’d be open to selling the mill – if he got a good profit on his investment.

Black said he recently met with a top official from Kejriwal Singapore International, an Indian papermaker interested in the mill. However, he said the official was “full of (expletive)” and “never showed me a nickel.”

“If you can find me a buyer who has money, I’d be happy to sell the mill to them,” he said.