Arianne Phosphate received permission from the Quebec cabinet to proceed on its proposed $1.2-billion phosphate mine in the Lac à Paul region about 200 km (124 miles) north of Saguenay—Lac St-Jean.
“There could not have been a better way to end the year for Arianne and the region as a whole,” Jean-Sébastien David, Arianne’s chief operating officer, said Tuesday in a statement. “The ministerial decree represents the most significant milestone to date for the project and with it, Arianne now has the permission it needs to go ahead.”
David said the next step is lining up financing for the project with prospective partners. Construction is due to begin in the spring of 2016. The mine will have estimated production of three million tons a year, with the phosphate to be sold in North America and Europe.
The Montreal Gazette reported that not everyone is happy with news. La Fondation Rivières had requested last week that the decision be put off by the cabinet until it had guarantees from the developer of compensation in the event of damage to the environment or third parties.
It said the project “appeared premature” and concerns still hadn’t been addressed about the environmental impact of the discharge of waste water and trucking of the phosphate.
The decision is good news for the port town of Sept-Îles, which had a major setback in January with the closure of the Bloom Lake iron ore mine. The shut-down was part of a plan by Cliffs Natural Resources to exit Eastern Canada, after taking a $6 billion charge on the mine related mainly to the ill-timed purchase of Bloom Lake, which was supposed to supply the then-booming Chinese steel market. Cliffs' also sold part of its struggling coal division.