MINING WATCH NEWS RELEASE: ROYALTIES, ENVIRONMENT AND CITIZENS’ RIGHTS : SURVEY RESULTS SUPPORT DEMANDS OF QUEBEC MINING REFORM COALITION

http://www.miningwatch.ca/

Monday, February 27, 2012

For Immediate Release

ROYALTIES, ENVIRONMENT AND CITIZENS’ RIGHTS: SURVEY RESULTS SUPPORT DEMANDS OF QUEBEC MINING REFORM COALITION

Montréal, Sunday, February 26, 2012. “The survey by Léger Marketing on the mining industry confirms the relevance and importance of our work over the last four years” stated Ugo Lapointe of the Coalition Québec meilleure mine (Better Mining Coalition). According to the survey, a majority of residents of Québec including the Abitibi region (the most active mining area of Québec) agree that there is a need for further reforms to improve royalties, environmental protection and respect of citizens’ rights. “It’s very encouraging. It shows that our positions are supported by the people of Québec, even in the mining regions where the industry lobby is most active” added Lapointe.

Conducted between February 17 and 19 for the Journal de Montréal the survey questioned 600 people, with a good representation of respondents from Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Results of the survey include:

–     59% of the Québec population judges current royalties to be insufficient, including 73% of Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents

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Quebec risks driving away mining investment with Bill 14 – by Jean-Francois Minardi (Fraser Forum – January/February 2012)

This article came from the Fraser Institute website: http://www.fraserinstitute.org/

Until recently, mining executives around the world saw Quebec as having the best policy environment for mining investment (McMahon and Cervantes, 2010). This is mainly thanks to a predictable regulatory
environment, the absence of territorial claims in Northern Quebec, high quality geo-scientific data easily accessible to miners, good infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and an attractive mining tax system (McMahon and Cervantes, 2011).

But with the introduction of Bill 14, tabled on May 12, 2011 to amend Quebec’s Mining Act, the province is now poised to introduce a high level of uncertainty that may scare investors away and seriously damage the policy attractiveness of Quebec to mining investors.

Bill 14 gives additional power to municipalities to control mining activities in their territories. But giving municipalities control over where and how mining can take place sidelines the provincial government as the sole mining regulator and runs the risk of erecting multiple barriers to mining investment, investment that creates well-paying jobs in many Quebec communities.

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Plan Nord Under the Microscope – by Frédéric Dubois (The Dominion – Janurary 9, 2012)

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/

Public involvement in diamond venture ends once gems are found

MONTREAL—Since the mid 1900s, every man, woman and child living in Quebec has donated the equivalent of $20 towards exploration costs for the province’s first diamond mine project. But when a mine was finally discovered and the promised rewards for years of the province’s investment began to be realized, the Quebec government sold the project to a private company. Not only that, but Quebeckers can expect to shell out even more as the now privately owned mine moves towards production.

According to documents obtained by The Dominion, all that’s left for the public after they invested over $157 million in the Renard Diamond Project is a 37 per cent stake in a private company, and token public representation on the company’s board of directors.

The diamond mine is today being hailed as a model operation by the Quebec government. But a deeper look into what this model would mean for Quebeckers casts a long shadow over the government’s economic policies.

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Quebec still favours relaunch of asbestos industry – by Michelle Lalonde (Montreal Gazette – February 16, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

MONTREAL – The Quebec government continues to favour a relaunch of the asbestos industry – despite a storm of recent controversy, including groundbreaking criminal convictions of two European businessmen for causing thousands of asbestos-related deaths, and far-reaching concerns about the research upon which the province bases its pro-asbestos policy.

Members of the anti-asbestos movement say the Canadian and Quebec governments have long relied on questionable studies produced by researchers at McGill University and elsewhere, funded by the asbestos industry, to promote chrysotile asbestos as relatively harmless if used safely.

McGill is conducting a preliminary review of the research of professor emeritus John Corbett McDonald to determine whether a full investigation should be called into whether some of that research was influenced by the fact it was funded by the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association.

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Quebec harvests $6-billion in [mining] investment – by Nicolas Van Praet (National Post – February 14, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

MONTREAL – Quebec Premier Jean Charest says his government’s massive effort to develop the resources of its northern territory has generated $6-billion worth of investment to date as companies accelerate growth plans faster than the province predicted.

Global mining giant Xstrata PLC is spending US$530-million to develop projects at its Raglan nickel mine in Nunavik, one of a number of corporate investments confirmed since Mr. Charest’s Liberal government formally announced its North Plan in May 2011.

China’s Jilin Jien Nickel said it will double investment in its project to extract nickel in Nunavik in northern Quebec to $800-million. And Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. is committing some $1.4-billion of capital to develop the Éléonore underground gold mine near Ell Lake, though much of that was announced before the North Plan’s launch. Backed by the Cree nations of Wemindji and Eastmain, whose members will work in the facility, the mine is expected to yield 600,000 ounces of gold annually over its 15-year life.

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Asbestos industry under microscope – by Michelle LaLonde (Montreal Gazette – February 11, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

Call for government to stop financial aid

If you were a private investor looking to sink some money into a promising venture, the expansion of an asbestos mine in Quebec may not sound like a great bet these days.

Quebec’s asbestos industry has been taking a heavy pounding of late, with two damning documentaries airing on CBC and Radio-Canada, renewed calls from politicians in Quebec City and Ottawa to outlaw the cancer-causing mineral, and a review launched into some industry-funded research at McGill this week.

On Friday, the opposition Québec Solidaire called on the provincial and federal governments to stop financing the asbestos industry and to ban export of the mineral. Parti Québécois mining critic Martine Ouellette told Canadian Press she wants a parliamentary commission to look at the issue.

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Plan Nord: Jean Charest says half of northern Quebec will be protected – by René Bruemmer (Montreal Gazette – February 6, 2012)

This article came from: http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

Environmentalists celebrate increased safeguarding of extra 100,000 square kilometres of land

MONTREAL – Calling it perhaps the largest environmental conservation project on the planet, Quebec premier Jean Charest unveiled how the government plans to safeguard 50 per cent of the province’s northern territory – a region the size of France – from industrial development Sunday.

Chief among the measures was the announcement that 20 per cent of the region will be declared protected areas by 2020, nearly twice the amount of land Quebec first pledged would be granted full protection.

Another 30 per cent of the land will be closed to mining and hydroelectric projects, although other development projects deemed to have less impact on the ecology, like ecotourism, for instance, will be permitted. The nature of those development projects have yet to be defined.

The announcement was met with cautious approval by conservation groups, some of who have characterized the government’s Plan Nord vision to invest $80 billion in energy development, forestry, mining and tourism over 25 years as a marketing plan to sell off natural resources to foreign countries.

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[Quebec Plan Nord] Is More Talk the Right Prescription for Northern Ontario? – by Livio Di Matteo (Northern Economist Blog – January 19, 2012)

Livio Di Matteo is Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Visit his new Economics Blog “Northern Economist” at http://ldimatte.shawwebspace.ca/

Media reports on the visit yesterday by Quebec based consultants who worked on Quebec’s Plan Nord appear to have emphasized their prescription for more planning and discussion.  The Plan Nord is the Quebec government’s parallel to our own Northern Growth Plan and their plan to develop their own north with anticipated investments of 80 billion dollars and the creation of as many as 20,000 jobs. 

The Mayor of Greenstone was quoted as saying the time for talk had passed and some direct action was needed by the province in getting things going.  On the other hand, according to a report on TBNewswatch:

A pair of Quebec-based consultants, however, have suggested what’s needed is more talk.  It’s worked in Quebec, said Yvan Loubier, a senior consultant for National Public Relations in Quebec City, who has worked with both governments and communities in Northern Quebec to help facilitate a 25-year plan for economic salvation in an area hard hit by many of the same concerns afflicting Northern Ontario, particularly First Nations communities. It didn’t come easily, at least not at first.

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[Quebec’s Plan Nord] Growth tips shared – Special to The Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay Chroncicle-Journal – January 19, 2012)

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Those who helped develop Plan Nord say the next 25 years are going to be exciting for Northern Quebec. Northwestern Ontario would like to share in some of that excitement.

Members of National Public Relations, who helped develop Plan Nord, gave a presentation in Thunder Bay on Wednesday.

The presentation was hosted by the Northwestern Ontario joint task force on regional economic development pilot project, the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association.

Plan Nord is an economic development project aimed at Northern Quebec, which over the next 25 years is estimated to generate more $80 billion in investments and create more than 20,000 jobs a year.

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[Plan Nord] Quebec plan may be blueprint for Northwest – Special to The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (January 16, 2012)

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Northwestern Ontario is hoping to gain some perspective and insight from Quebec when it comes to economic development in Northern regions.

Members of National Public Relations are to be in Thunder Bay on Wednesday to provide information on Plan Nord, one of the largest economic, environmental and social projects in Canada.

Plan Nord, designed for Northern Quebec, will be carried out for the next 25 years. It is estimated that it will generate more than $80 billion in investments and create more than 20,000 jobs a year.

Members of the Northwestern Ontario Joint Task Force are eager to learn more about Plan Nord, and see how it might impact Northwestern Ontario and if similar strategies can be applied in the region.

“Given the $80-billion program, is it going to be more attractive for investment than Northwestern Ontario,” task force chairman Iain Angus, said Sunday.

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Éléonore could be the next Val d’Or [Quebec mining] – by Kevin Dougherty (Montreal Gazette – January 11, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/

The prospecting mission led by Premier Jean Charest and Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume to promote Charest’s Plan Nord struck gold Tuesday in the wilderness of northern Quebec, visiting the site of the Goldcorp Inc.’s Éléonore gold mine.
 
Labeaume, who led a delegation of about 25 Quebec City-area business people and who made his personal fortune in the mining business, said Éléonore is “opening up a new mining region in Canada.”
 
“It is major, major, major,” he said. Guy Belleau, director of the $2.2-billion mining project, set to begin production of 600,000 ounces of gold yearly in 2017, went further.
 
“The Plan Nord is Éléonore,” he said in a presentation to the business delegation, political leaders and representatives of the Cree First Nations who count on landing about half the 700 construction jobs and 400 mining jobs Éléonore will generate.

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Canada’s asbestos industry on its last legs – by Bertrand Marotte (Globe and Mail – January 5, 2012)

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— The “miracle fibre” that helped drive Quebec’s economy for more than a century now represents an industry near death, despite government efforts to keep it afloat.

In its heyday in the mid-1960s, Canada’s asbestos industry employed thousands and produced about 40 per cent of the world’s supply of the silky-white product known for its resistance to fire, rust and rot. It was used widely in construction throughout North America, including at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

Now, it’s known more for being ripped out of walls as a danger to public health. Many developed nations have banned it outright, and critics warn it’s impossible to ensure its safe use in developing countries. These concerns over a known carcinogen have put the industry on its last legs.

Production at one mine has been halted until it can get refinancing, and another miner – Thetford Mines, Que.-based LAB Chrysotile –filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, leaving no active operations in Canada.

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Will Quebec’s Plan Nord boost its cachet as a jurisdiction of choice? – by Alisha Hiyate (Mining Markets – December 2011)

http://www.miningmarkets.ca/

It’s probably safe to say that no one is happier about Plan Nord — Quebec’s 25-year plan to stimulate investment in the province’s vast northern reaches — than André Gaumond.

The founder, president and CEO of project generator Virginia Mines (VGQ-T) has been preaching the gospel of northern Quebec’s mineral potential for more than a decade, well before the provincial government unveiled its official Plan Nord policy this May.

“We’ve been selling or promoting the ‘Plan Nord’ for 15 years, travelling everywhere, talking with investors and the investment community and telling them that this. . . area has a huge potential,” Gaumond says. “We will find many mines, many deposits there: It is the future of the mining industry in Canada. This is what we’ve been telling people for years and years.”

Under Plan Nord, the Quebec government will spend $2.1 billion over the next five years to make Quebec north of the 49th parallel — an area that accounts for 72% of the province’s landmass — more accessible for exploration and development.

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Mining Boom in Quebec: Alain-Jean Beauregard – by Brian Sylvester (The Gold Report – December 23, 2011)

http://www.theaureport.com/

While many jurisdictions are working hard to prevent mining or mineral exploration, the province of Quebec is encouraging it. In this exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Alain-Jean Beauregard, founder of Geologica Inc., a geological consulting firm based in Val-d’Or, talks about the shining future of gold mining in Quebec.

The Gold Report: The province of Quebec where Geologica is based offers some of the best infrastructure and mineral exploration incentives of any state or province in North America. Why has Quebec embraced mining when so many other jurisdictions are working hard to prevent mining or mineral exploration at all?

Alain-Jean Beauregard: Like forestry, mining has traditionally been a region developer in the province of Quebec. Native land issues have already been settled for large parts of the province. Mining is an important job creator—one of the most important in the province. It’s good income for the province because of revenues from taxes. Quebec is happy to have mining companies in the province.

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Bill 14 will change [Quebec] mining sector for worse – by Jean-Francois Minardi, Troy Media (Montreal Gazette – September 20, 2011)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

Giving power to municipalities will make it harder to invest in new jobs

Jean-François Minardi is associate director of the Global Natural Resource Policy Centre with the Fraser Institute.

Until recently, Quebec was seen by mining executives around the world as having the best policy environment for investment, mainly thanks to a predictable regulatory environment, the absence of territorial claims in northern Quebec, high quality geo-scientific data easily accessible to miners, good infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and an attractive mining-tax system.

But with the introduction May 12 of Bill 14, to amend Quebec’s Mining Act, the province is now poised to introduce a high level of uncertainty that may scare investors away and seriously damage the policy attractiveness of Quebec to mining investment.

Bill 14 gives additional power to municipalities to control mining activities on their territory, something municipalities clamoured for during the heated debates over regulating the shale gas industry.

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