The Quebec government has authorized Canada’s largest open-pit mine near an inhabited area after three years of debate and despite an arm's-length agency's description of the project as "unacceptable."
The Arnaud mining project in Sept-Îles, in Quebec’s northeastern territories, will extract apatite, a mineral used for fertilizer.
Construction of the mine is expected to begin in January 2016 and last until late 2018. Its operations should last 30 years and will provide 330 jobs in the region in the long term.
The Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), an independent agency that reports to the Ministry, said in a report last year that the project was “unacceptable” in its present form.
But the consortium behind the project, known as Mine Arnaud Inc., submitted an additional study to Quebec’s government last year, on which the government's decision is based.
The study's contents are unknown, but provincial Environment Minister David Heurtel says the mining consortium has agreed to 11 conditions in order to assuage environmental concerns among the public.
Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand believes this project is “excellent news” for locals. He added the Arnaud mining project is the type of activity that reflects the province’s Plan Nord, a provincially funded strategy to develop natural resources in northern Quebec launched in 2011 by then Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
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