Quebec launches five-year, $90 million plan to promote critical mineral sector growth
A five-year, $90 million plan to develop critical minerals was unveiled by Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources responsible for the Cote-Nord region.
The Quebec Plan for the Development of Critical and Strategic Minerals 2020-2025 (QPDCSM) signal’s the Canadian province’s intention to transition to a lower-carbon economy.
The province will be extracting, transforming, and recycling niche minerals essential to new technology applications, which now come from China, said Premier François Legault, who joined his four ministers in the announcement.
The plan will allow the deployment in Québec of value chains of critical and strategic minerals (CSMs) in respect for the principles of sustainable development, social acceptability and wealth creation for the regions, including local and Aboriginal communities, Québec Natural Resources and Energy said in a media release.
The implementation of the plan is based on a financial framework of C$90 million, (about $68 million) announced in the 2020-2021 Budget Plan in March.
Traditionally, Quebec has mined iron ore, gold, and base metals. The new initiative will involve developing cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, and rare-earth metals, all essential in making electric vehicles, mobile communications, medical scanners, solar panels, windmills and aircraft.
From 2020 to 2025, Quebec will spend $90 million to encourage junior mining companies, seek investors, and open up areas for the mines.
“CSMs (critical and strategic minerals) are everywhere,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien said. “They are indispensable.”
Julien said people living in the mining regions of northern Quebec, including Indigenous nations, would participate in the developments.
“We can’t do this without the Aboriginals,” Julien said.
Quebec signed a Grand Alliance agreement in February with the Cree Nation government of northern Quebec, but has no such arrangement with the Innu and other First Nations in whose territory the mineral deposits are found.
Deposits of rare-earth metals, nickel, cooper, cobalt, and platinum are located in Inuit territory.
The agreement calls for better planning, a possible railway line into Cree territory, and a port on James Bay to ship out the minerals.
Ugo Lapointe, coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, said: “The ministers responsible continue to affirm publicly that mines in Quebec are already ‘the greenest in the world,’ which is simply false.”
Lapointe took issue with Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charrette’s position that mining is well regulated in Quebec, and there’s no need to subject the projects to an environmental assessment.
Quebec’s assessment agency, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environment, has no jurisdiction above the 55th parallel, where many of the planned mining projects are located.
The federal and Ontario governments have committed $590 million, to be split 50-50, to produce battery-powered electric vehicles at the Ford assembly plant in Oakville, Ont.