Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Clock ticking for private investment in Quebec asbestos mine

Quebec's controversial promise to make an investment in re-opening the province's Jeffrey asbestos mine may be rescinded if private investors don't step up to the plate by mid-August, the Montreal Gazette reported on July 7.

Industry Minister Clement Gignac told the Gazette that the $58 million dollar loan guarantee promised by the province to help re-open the controversial mine -- which would increase Canada's production of chrysotile asbestos, a carcinogen that critics say cannot be used safely, especially in Third World countries that buy almost all of Canada's asbestos exports -- was only good until mid-August.

By that time, the promoters will need to have found $25 million in private investment to supplement the provincial support, or the deal may be cancelled.

The loan guarantee was originally scheduled to expire at the end of June, but the Quebec minister told the Gazette a decision had been made to extend the conditional guarantee until mid-August.

"It's been months and months," that the government has been waiting on the promoter to get private financing together, Gignac said. "We put strict conditions on providing this loan guarantee and those conditions are still in place, but at some point the promoter has to deliver."

Canada's continued production and exports of chrysotile asbestos was in the news recently (including this Tyee coverage), as critics around the world condemned the Canadian delegation for its role in preventing the UN body from listing the Canadian export as a toxic substance, requiring that customers be warned of the dangers of cancer associated with asbestos use. More than a thousand of North America's top epidemiologists added to the criticism, voting at a convention in Montreal to express "extreme disapproval" of Canada's position.

Bernard Coulombe, the Quebec mining engineer who speaks for the business group that hopes to open the Jeffrey Mine with Quebec provincial loan guarantees, told the Hill Times on July 11 that the mine, if re-opened, would employ up to 500 miners.

Coulombe is also associated with the Chrysotile Institute, an asbestos industry lobby group that was, until this year, being financed by both the Quebec and the federal government. The most recent federal budget saw support for the Chrysotile Institute cancelled for the next fiscal year, after several years of support that saw a quarter of a million dollars flowing from federal coffers to support chrysotile exports.

Tom Sandborn covers labour and health beats for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips here.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus