o3 BLOG | Investing
Québec Economy — Mining Industry and Sustainability
Québec has immense mining potential, and in 2021, it was the second highest mineral-producing province by value at $11.9 billion, coming second to British Columbia ($12.9 billion). Almost 90% of Québec’s bedrock consists of Precambrian rocks from the Canadian Shield (north of the St. Lawrence River). The remaining 10% is paleozoic rocks, including the St. Lawrence Platform encircling the St. Lawrence River with the Appalachian mountainous region to the south of the river. These geological regions have a high potential for mineral production, with the most well-known geologic area being the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. The Abitibi also has the world’s largest Archean volcano-sedimentary belt and is known for its gold, copper, zinc, and silver resources. Québec develops 17 metals and 12 nonmetals, giving it Canada’s most diverse resource base.
While Québec is a powerhouse for mining potential, the province has implemented many action plans to ensure sustainable growth and support for its socio economic infrastructure. These plans offer solutions to environmental concerns and community support — all of which are promising for the long-term health of the province’s economy.
Growing Global demand for Critical and Strategic Minerals (CSM)
The global economy is rapidly evolving, and new technologies are hastening this transformation while also transforming our lifestyles. Growing industries like telecommunications, renewable energy, biomedicine, aerospace, and electric vehicles are driving the demand for precious metals and minerals. In addition to gold and silver, Québec has the opportunity to become a significant producer of Critical and Strategic Minerals (CSM), such as nickel, niobium, and graphite, and embark on mining initiatives for lithium, vanadium, and tantalum. CSMs are essential in our daily life — batteries for laptops, smartphones, and electric vehicles all contain graphite, lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Platinum group elements are essential in computer hard drives and rare earth elements in electric motors.
In February of this year, The Fraser Institute ranked Québec sixth in the world and second in Canada in its annual evaluation of mining jurisdiction attractiveness for exploratory investment. The jump from 18th to 6th place indicates that Québec is capable of attracting exploratory funding from both domestic and international investors. The QMA applauds this discovery and anticipates that future exploratory spending will open new mines — promising news for local and provincial economies.
The province of Québec is positioned in an excellent area regarding proximity to the United States. It is close to metropolitan cities and business hubs such as Toronto and New York City, industrial centres, and its deep-water ports provide easy access for exports to Europe and Asia. The province also collaborates closely with mining industry organizations and communities that host projects. These communities are natural project partners, collaborating with the government to develop and promote the mining sector while adhering to sustainable development and social acceptability principles.
Ministère de l’Énergie et Ressources Naturelles (MERN): Social Acceptability Guidelines
Québec creates a collaborative environment where mining players collaborate closely with local and First Nations people in mining sites. In February of 2016, Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN) created the Social Acceptability Guidelines. The goal of the five guidelines are as follows:
- Outline the roles and responsibilities of land use, including planning and management.
- Increase transparency surrounding public land planning and make it more participatory with regular updates for the local community.
- Establish processes for public and community participation and engagement.
- Promote fair sharing of benefits from mining and energy development projects with host communities.
- Strengthen MERN’s ability to analyze the economic benefits, and the impacts (both positive and negative) of the projects by taking social acceptability factors into account.
Mining projects in collaboration with communities
To promote transparency with enterprises and Indigenous communities, Québec provides tools and resources to improve the social acceptability of mining operations and promotes open discussion. In the early consultation phase, proponents are encouraged to establish development conditions that respect the environment and the host communities of mining projects.
Treaties with First Nations
Québec has signed treaties with the Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi people covering about 1.1 million square kilometres (more than 65% of the total area of Québec ). The Gouvernement du Québec and the MERN have also adopted policies providing rules for contacting Québec ‘s other First Nations when a project may affect their established or ancestral or treaty rights. In the case of the Abitibiwinni First Nation, MERN helped develop a clear framework for consulting and accommodating the community regarding mining activities.
Job growth in the mining industry
Training a qualified workforce to cover all positions in the mining industry is also a requirement for success in exploiting Québec’s future minerals.
Several programs are available to help with skill development in the mining industry, such as scholarships and training programs for skilled workers. Companies that generate more than $2 million must also allocate a training expenditure for existing employees to refresh or learn relevant skills as part of the Contribution to the Workforce Skills Development and Recognition Fund. Unemployed or underemployed people might be eligible for financial aid to train for jobs in the mining industry.
The sector’s growth in the province relating to mineral discovery, extraction, processing, valorization, and recycling will create high-quality jobs and boost regional economic viability.
According to the Québec Mining Association (QMA), the mining industry in Québec supports more than 48,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs, that mining businesses spend about $10 billion across the province, and a network of more than 3,800 suppliers aids in the development of Québec’s natural resources. It is also worth noting that the average annual compensation in the industry is close to $104,000, which is significantly higher than the average yearly wage in Québec, which is $53,000, and Canada’s average of $51,000.
The report also answers a commonly posed question: how much money does the government get from mineral resource development? The answer is more than $1 billion every year. In 2018, the Québec government alone got $1.3 billion, without counting corporate income tax, while the Government of Canada earned an additional $500 million.
Sustainable development best practices
The province of Québec has a good reputation in the mining sector as a dependable and long-term partner. It regularly updates its legislation and regulatory framework to embed sustainable development ideas into the heart of some of the world’s most ethical mining enterprises, placing precedence on increased environmental and occupational health and safety regulations. The government continues to broaden its knowledge in the environmental management of mineral-related projects for the future. Sustainability programs and initiatives ensure that new mining projects follow a process that respects the environment and surrounding community by adhering to the principles of sustainable development.
Sustainable Mobility Policy – 2030
In 2018, The Government of Québec announced the Sustainable Mobility Policy – 2030: Transporting Québec to Modernity and the Action Plan 2018–2023. The fundamentals of sustainable mobility
Mobility makes the ability and potential of people and products to move possible. It is the foundation for social, economic, and cultural exchanges among individuals, businesses, and society. Mobility must be efficient, safe, sustainable, fair, integrated into the environment, and consistent with human health and ecosystems to be sustainable. Sustainable mobility conserves space and resources, provides and facilitates access, fosters economic dynamism, is socially responsible, and protects the environment’s integrity.
The strategy tackles public, active, road, maritime, aviation, and rail transportation, as well as road network initiatives, all from an integrated standpoint. It will be in place until 2030 and with regular updates through various action plans that will aid in achieving the goals.
Québec is also helping to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change by enacting regulations such as a battery industry development strategy. In 2021, the government of Québec announced a plan to invest up to $1.4 billion in the lithium battery business to become a world leader in electric transportation.
Québec is in a favourable position due to a number of assets that promote the energy transition:
- Québec’s hydroelectricity production has a relatively low environmental impact and will enable Québec to manufacture North America’s greenest battery.
- World-class university network that serves as an incubator for highly skilled personnel in STEM
- Expertise in producing electric cars, including key manufacturers such as Nova Bus, Lion Electric Co., and BRP.
- Geographic proximity to major automakers and over parts manufacturers
- Low operational costs compared to the rest of North America, as well as trade agreements that provide access to a wide consumer market
Québec is also one of the most business-friendly cities in the country, with competitive wages and considerable tax and financial benefits. While the province is attractive to global investors, it also has extensive planning and promotes collaboration to ensure that the communities within the area, including Indigenous Peoples, thrive.
To learn more about investing in a progressive Québec based mining company, contact us today!
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