Investment needed to ensure returns on Quebec’s Plan Nord – by Bertrand Marotte (Globe and Mail – September 14, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

MONTREAL— Companies stand to benefit from the anticipated mining boom in northern Quebec, but they need to start building the right infrastructure projects now to capitalize on the opportunity.

The Quebec government’s ambitious $80-billion, 25-year plan to open up the vast, remote northern region of the province requires that they play a much more hands-on role in the critical development of infrastructure.

“It’s important for mining companies to be pro-active in the decision-making process because there is a need for good preparation and for clear outline of public sector-private sector responsibilities such as who will be in charge of road maintenance over the long term,” said Daniel Roth, Ernst & Young’s head of the Montreal-based infrastructure advisory service.

Infrastructure access has become more of an issue for mining companies around the world in the past year, Ernst & Young says in its annual report on the business risks facing the mining and metals sector.

The report cites the lack of adequate rail networks as the largest current global bottleneck.

Companies need to do more to reduce the risk of capacity constraints due to infrastructure gaps that could mean loss of market share as competitors step in to fill the gap, according to E&Y.

Quebec has so far shown encouraging signs it’s committed to playing a major role in the development of much-needed new infrastructure in the remote North, but companies also need to act strategically and in innovative ways to make sure the projects get the attention and financing they need, said Mr. Roth.

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