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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.
Quebec has wooed business with its own pledge to spend billions of dollars to help develop critical infrastructure in the north. The government has set aside $1.2-billion from 2011-2016 alone to build roads, housing and other infrastructure and another $382-million for unspecified “social measures” to benefit northern communities.
Under the plan, the province has earmarked $500-million over the next five years to take equity participations in various projects with the objective of generating a return. Quebec owns 37% of Stornoway Diamond Corp. and has royalty rights representing 2% of the value of future production at the company’s Renard diamond mine.
“All of this has happened quicker than we expected,” Mr. Charest told a business audience gathered to get an update on the North Plan at Montreal’s convention centre Monday.
Quebec ranks as one of the world’s top 10 mining producers. But the majority of its mining potential above the 49th parallel remains unidentified, Mr. Charest said.
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