MONTREAL • About 1,000 kilometres from Montreal, in the Precambrian expanse of Quebec’s north, is the world’s second-largest deposit of one of its most sought-after minerals.
In 2009, Nemaska Lithium announced its intention to harvest its namesake mineral with all the gut-busting blarney usually reserved for gold rushes and oil strikes.
To investors, the company touted itself as “your next Canadian lithium supplier,” promising to deliver 300 jobs and $4.1 billion in revenues over its minimum 18-year lifespan.
Company president Guy Bourassa draped himself in the Quebec flag. “We will do everything to ensure the control of the company remains in Quebec,” he said. The hubris was understandable. A Quebec-based company, armed with government investment and an abundance of cheap energy, was sitting on a massive reserve of a resource critical to the global shift to electric transit.
And Quebec has a centuries-old history of mining its own depths. To mangle a truism, Nemaska Lithium was too good to fail.