(Kitco News) – Quebec Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard announced the ‘Plan Nord +’ this morning in Val d’Or, Quebec, which is an extension of the original Plan Nord.
Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s Plan Nord mining project, released in May 2011, was expected to create 20,000 jobs annually for the province and generate over $80 billion over a 25-year period.
In a telephone interview with Kitco News this afternoon, Couillard said that bringing the Plan Nord back to the table was a no-brainer.
“We’re putting most of it back as it was, because it was an excellent plan of sustainable development for Quebec,” Couillard said. “Unfortunately the Parti Quebecois (PQ) basically killed it when they came into office. They have a hostile attitude towards the mining industry, and private activity in general, so it wasn’t long before the signal was sent that this was over.”
The original Plan Nord covered an area of 1.2 million kilometers squared – an area twice the size of France, to put it in perspective – above the 49th parallel, a vast territory boasting a wide range of minerals including, but not limited to, gold, platinum group metals, iron ore, nickel, cobalt, zinc, lithium, vanadium, rare-earth metals, uranium and diamonds.
Couillard added two elements to the Plan Nord + which will focus on helping grow in-province business within the mining sector and sharing more of the taxes with communities.
“First, we’re going to use the investment arm of the Quebec government, Investissement Quebec, to build a network of contractors that can build equipment for the mining industry, and related businesses so that we can build a complete mining industry,” he said. “We’re going to put $1 billion there to start new businesses, merge new businesses, support businesses when they want to expand.”
Couillard added that the $1 billion is from Investissement Ressources, and was not initially tagged for Plan Nord +.
“Second, when our government is formed, we will share the taxation of natural resources with the regions,” Couillard continued. “Instead of sending it all to Quebec City, and then back to the regions as subsidies and programs, some of it is going to stay in the region so they can adapt professional training for youths and to create businesses to sustain entrepreneurship in the regions.”
He also announced the creation the Plan Nord society, which is going to be independent organization with an independent board to monitor progress.
Asked about the current state of the mining sector in Quebec, Couillard said it’s not close to where it should be.
“The sector’s been shaken with continuous changes, different noises coming from the government,” Couillard said.
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