La hommage au “Plan Nord” – by Russell Noble (Canadian Mining Jounal – April 2012)

Russell Noble is the editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

I had to look up the meaning of the word “plan” to reassure myself that Quebec’s “Plan Nord” fits “Oxford’s” definition. And, thankfully, it does.

I say “thankfully” because so many gov¬ernment plans we hear and read about are just “schemes” (also part of Oxford’s definition), but in Quebec’s case, I believe “A formulation and detailed meth¬od by which a thing is to be done” truly spells out what’s in the works as the Government of Quebec moves ahead with its “Plan Nord” program.
For those of you not too familiar with the program, it’s an $80-billion project designed to open the province’s vast resources located north of the 49th parallel and north of the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In a word, it’s an “immense” project that covers 1.2 million km2 and accounts for 72 per cent of Quebec’s geographic area. It’s an area where all of the province’s nickel, cobalt, platinum group metals, zinc, iron ore and ilmenite are found, as well as a sig¬nificant portion of gold production.

To me, “Plan Nord” will be a game changer and role model for the rest of Canada to follow, because nothing in recent mining history has spelled out what’s need¬ed in terms of sustainable development than what Quebec plans to do for the indus¬try and its people over the next 25 years.

I know a quarter of a century may sound like a long time, but projects like the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project have been “planned” for more than 37 years now and the people in Northwest Territories are still frustrated waiting for that proj¬ect to happen.

At least in Quebec, people won’t be wait¬ing. Plan Nord will be to future generations what development of La Manicouagan and James Bay were to the 1960s and 1970s.

This time, how¬ever, and what impresses me most about this program, is that the focus is on developing a “home grown” generation of people who will regenerate the mining industry in Quebec.

As everyone associated with mining in Canada knows, people going into the industry are in short supply and unlike earlier times, the transfer of skills, and inter¬est, in mining from generation to genera¬tion is not there any more.

Through “Plan Nord,” however and its plan to include 63 towns, villages and communities and link them to the rest of the province by building roads, rail lines, plus maritime and an air transportation infrastructure, all Quebecois will be given a chance to cash in on some of the prov¬ince’s fortunes.

Roughly 33,000 Aboriginals living in those 63 towns will now see a brighter future thanks to Plan Nord; especially the grade schoolers who will learn more and more about mining as they continue their education.

Again, “Plan Nord” is a win-win pro¬gram for almost everyone concerned, and I salute the Quebec Government for com¬ing up with an honest “plan,” and not just another government “scheme.”

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