QUEBEC GOVERNMENT NEWS RELEASE: The Plan Nord: The Project of a Generation – Harness Northern Québec’s Enormous Economic Potential

Québec, May 9, 2011 –  “The Plan Nord, one of the biggest projects in Québec’s history, seeks to shape and develop a new economic space with enormous potential. Through its scope and the extent of its spinoff, the Plan Nord will benefit all regions of Québec and all sectors of our economy,” Québec Premier Jean Charest said.

“By advocating the adoption of concrete measures to responsibly develop the vast territory’s economic potential, the Plan Nord will facilitate the sustainable development of energy, forest, mining, wildlife, tourism and bio-food resources. It will foster business investment that ensures Quebecers’ prosperity,” Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region and the Nord-du-Québec region Pierre Corbeil added.

It should be noted that the Plan Nord will be implemented over 25 years and lead, during that time, to $80 billion in investments. It will create or consolidate, on average, 20 000 jobs a year in addition to engendering $14 billion in revenues for the government and Québec society.

Energy resources

“Green and renewable energy accounts for 98% of Québec’s energy production and offers a considerable advantage to everyone who lives, works and invests in Québec. This noteworthy trait can quickly become a competitive advantage that enables businesses to promote their products by linking them to a green, renewable label. All that is due to the vision and ambition of the gouvernement du Québec in the energy sector. Since 2003, it has revived hydroelectric development,” Minister Normandeau indicated.

In fact, it should be noted that 97% of the power stipulated in the Québec Energy Strategy 2006-2015 will be generated in the territory that the Plan Nord covers. The requisite investment is estimated at $25 billion and will create 75 000 jobs.

The Plan Nord will enable Québec to go even further. In the realm of energy, the action plan calls, primarily, for the development of 3 500 additional MW of clean, renewable energy, support for projects not linked to the main power grid that specifically satisfy the energy needs of industrial projects, and funding for studies necessary to carry out underwater generator projects. Moreover, a combined wind power-diesel pilot project is planned to supply the network of a community in Nunavik Energy is the key to the sustainable development of the territory that the Plan Nord covers.

Mineral resources

A wide range of mineral ore abounds in Northern Québec: nickel, cobalt, platinum group metals, zinc, iron ore and ilmenite. The territory also accounts for a significant portion of gold production. Lithium, vanadium and rare-earth metals, for which international demand is growing since they are used increasingly in the energy, transportation and high-technology sectors, are also found there.
Key directions in the mineral resources sector will facilitate the realization of 11 new investment projects, promote the discovery of new deposits, and create an environment favourable to investors.
“Northern Québec has incomparable mining potential. Eleven mining projects will be carried out in the coming years in the territory that the Plan Nord covers.

The projects will engender $8.24 billion in investments and create 11 000 jobs during the construction phase, then nearly 4 000 jobs a year once they are in operation. The opening up of vast, previously unexplored territories is paving the way for unprecedented economic growth, a new golden age in the Québec mining sector, which will be a veritable driving force in wealth creation for local communities and all Quebecers,” Minister for Natural Resources and Wildlife and Minister responsible for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region and the Côte-Nord region Serge Simard noted.

To this end, the government is undertaking, in particular, to accelerate the acquisition of geoscientific knowledge of the territory, coordinate government action concerning the rehabilitation of the rail line between Emeril Junction and Schefferville, and introduce a biodiversity tax credit to encourage investors to participate in ecosystem development or restoration projects.

Amendments to the Mining Act

Minister Simard also intends to table in the coming weeks legislation to amend the Mining Act in order to better structure the steps in the mining development process. The gouvernement du Québec will ensure that it obtains a fair economic return on mineral resource development.

“Mining exploration and mining operations must be properly managed according to the principles of sustainable development. That is why I will table in the coming weeks a bill on the legislative and regulatory framework governing the mining sector. We have already revised the royalty regime to ensure that Quebecers receive a fair economic return on the development of our resources. The government will collect an estimated $1.4 billion over the next five years,” Minister Simard added.

Forest resources

The government will propose an industrial development strategy aimed at promoting the emergence of new wood products. Green chemistry, the production of engineering wood, the optimization of processing and bioenergy are some of the new sectors to be promoted.

“Our objective in the territory that the Plan Nord covers is to develop expertise in northern architecture so that it becomes a trademark for northern communities and on international markets. This niche will rely on the use of all forms of wood and the development of architectural designs adapted to northern climates in order to offer durable, ecoenergetic housing and institutional or commercial buildings,” Minister Normandeau said.

Furthermore, a sustainable forest development strategy adapted to northern conditions will be elaborated to manage the sustainable development of the territory’s forest resources. Priority initiatives under the first five-year plan in the forest sector include the acquisition of knowledge of vegetation north of the 53rd parallel, the pursuit of the deliberations of the Comité scientifique sur la limite nordique des forêts attribuables, support for initiatives centred on the use of forest biomass, the enhanced profitability of silvicultural investments, and the establishment of local forests in the regions concerned.

Wildlife resources

The territory that the Plan Nord covers offers a wide array of wildlife habitats in which live numerous species of birds, fur-bearing animals, fish of interest to sport fishermen, and so on. The wildlife resources in the territory are a very important component of the culture, traditions and subsistence of the Aboriginal nations and offer unique hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife-observation experiences.

In the territory that the Plan Nord covers, the government intends, in particular, to consolidate and diversify services offered and activities to enable hunters and fishermen to engage in memorable experiences. The development of wildlife resources will lead to job creation and spinoff for the North and for northern communities.

The 2011-2016 wildlife resources action plan also makes provision for investments in the acquisition of knowledge of wildlife environments, the consolidation and diversification of the services offered and activities adapted to the territory in question, and participation by local communities in the initiatives implemented.

The gouvernement du Québec and the partners concerned will, in particular, elaborate the next Plan de gestion du caribou toundrique, which will seek to restore the herds and strike a balance between the Aboriginal way of life, hunters’ expectations and those of outfitting operations. It is understood that the commitments in the JBNQA concerning Aboriginal harvesting activities will be fully respected.

Tourism potential

In addition to wildlife resources, the territory that the Plan Nord covers possesses numerous attractions likely to draw Québec and foreign tourists. Northern Québec’s assets are especially attractive to an international clientele seeking new, unique destinations. For this reason, the gouvernement du Québec intends to more widely publicize Québec’s remarkable scenery and the vibrant, authentic cultures of the people who live in the North by launching the Stratégie québécoise de développement touristique nordique, which will include, in particular, measures pertaining to the development of tourism supply, reception and the marketing of Northern Québec.

To this end, the government is undertaking to support the development and structuring of tourism supply in the North by relying on sustainable development, promote and market northern destinations in order to position them on the northern world stage, and bank on the training of human resources in the tourism sector.

Bio-food production

The territory that the Plan Nord covers also has 1.5 million ha of arable land, one of the biggest reserves in North America. Some 8 500 ha are now cultivated and 90% of this area is used to grow small fruits and fodder and for pastureland.

Climatic conditions in the territory lend themselves to the development of a diversified, much sought-after bio-food industry, e.g. blueberries, cloudberries, northern marine species, and so on. The Plan Nord will support a strategy aimed at marketing regional and rural products in restaurants, outfitting operation networks, and so on.

While the everyday diet at reasonable cost of the population living in the territory that the Plan Nord covers is a major challenge because of the high cost of foodstuffs, the initiatives implemented in the territory will help develop agricultural output and the processing and distribution of food to offer local supplies, e.g. northern greenhouses.

“The Plan Nord proposes a unique sustainable development model that will harness the enormous potential of the natural resources and the territory of Northern Québec in a spirit of respect for the environment and ecosystems, for the benefit of northern populations and Quebecers overall over the next 25 years,” Minister Normandeau concluded.