News Release

Project to restart asbestos mine in Quebec: A forest in Australia, a cemetery in India?

Québec. A forest in Australia, a cemetery in India? If Quebeckers felt proud to have an Australian forest named after Québec Premier Jean Charest for his actions to address climate change, how would they feel if, one day, a cemetery in India was named after their Premier to commemorate the victims of Québec asbestos? It’s a question that the Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine! (Better Mining Coalition) is asking in response to a $58-million loan guarantee the government is offering to renew operations at the Jeffery mine, near the town of Asbestos.

Québec meilleure mine! urges the government not to support the project and to use its resources to create a regional fund for economic diversification.

Québec meilleure mine! is pleased with growing awareness and debate that the visit of an international delegation of asbestos victims to Québec is creating, and with recent statements from public health officials in Québec against reopening the mine. The coalition is also enthused that Amir Kadir of Québec Solidaire has tabled Bill 491, seeking to ban asbestos and uranium mining in Québec.

Québec’s economy should be oriented toward products of the future and new forms of energy. Restarting the Jeffery mine would add another 200,000 tonnes of asbestos per year to global production of the lethal mineral.

The prestigious British medical journal, the Lancet, recently urged the Québec government to not support the project and to end  asbestos export. Journal editor, Richard Horton, called for an end to “the immoral export of asbestos-related death and disease to some of the most vulnerable people in the world”

Regardless of its form, asbestos breaks down into ever smaller fibers that are eventually invisible to the naked eye. If inhaled, they may cause incurable cancers and fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesotheleomia. Internationally, 100,000 people die every year from asbestos-related conditions.

Safe use of Québec asbestos worldwide is a myth

An international delegation of asbestos victims and labour representatives from Japan, India, Malaysia and Korea is presenting irrefutable evidence that Québec asbestos is used in unsafe ways within their countries. Sooner or later, Québec asbestos will be found in the air of factories, dump sites and homes in some of the poorest regions of the world. Indian protesters have already confronted Premier Charest during his official visit to India, challenging him to stop exporting the dangerous mineral beyond Québec’s borders.

Hypocritically, Canada is the world’s fourth largest producer of asbestos while its use is virtually banned domestically.

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For Information:

The Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine! was founded in the spring of 2008 and today is made up of more than a dozen organizations, representing many thousands of members across Québec. The coalition’s mandate is to redefine how the Quebec mining sector operates by promoting better social and environmental practices. Coalition members believe that a constructive dialogue with various stakeholders, the government, and affected communities and citizens is essential to this process.

The following organisations are currently members of the Coalition: Action boréale Abitibi-Témiscamingue (ABAT) ▪ Association de protection de l’environnement des Hautes-Laurentides (APEHL) ▪ Coalition de l’ouest du Québec contre l’exploitation de l’uranium (COQEU) ▪ Comité vigilance Malartic (projet minier Osisko) ▪ Conseil central de la Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) en Abitibi-Témiscamingue et Nord-du-Québec ▪ Écojustice ▪ Forum de l’Institut des sciences de l’environnement de l’UQAM ▪ MiningWatch Canada ▪ Mouvement Vert Mauricie ▪ Nature Québec ▪ Professionnels de la santé pour la survie mondiale ▪ Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire ▪ Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGE) ▪ Sept-Îles sans uranium