Fiascos costing taxpayers millions

Fiascos costing taxpayers millions

The financial difficulties of various mining projects, including their collapse, have cost the Quebec government hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. Here are four recent examples.

STORNOWAY DIAMONDS


mining file

Taxpayers have invested more than $740 million to build the Renard diamond mine, located north of Chibougamau, and the road leading to it. The government, the Caisse de dépôt and the Fonds FTQ lost at least $186 million when the company that operates the mine, Diamants Stornoway, declared bankruptcy in 2019. Québec, the Caisse, Osisko Gold Royalties and the Toronto company Triple Flag Mining today owns the mine, which resumed operations in 2020.

BLACK ROCK METALS


mining file

Quebec had invested at least $52 million in BlackRock Metals when the Quebec company obtained court protection in December 2021. The government still wants to remain a BlackRock shareholder along with US investor Orion. The company must find $1.1 billion to finance the construction of an iron, titanium and vanadium mine near Chibougamau, as well as a processing plant in Saguenay.

LITHIUM NEMASKA


mining file

Quebec has invested $130 million in this Quebec company that is developing the Whabouchi spodumene (lithium) deposit in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James. Nemaska ​​Lithium was sheltered from its creditors at the end of 2019 weighed down by cost overruns. The government has promised to invest 300 million dollars to revive the project together with the American company Livent, which supplies lithium in particular to BMW and Tesla.

NORTH AMERICAN LITHIUM


mining file

The government has invested approximately $100 million in North American Lithium (NAL), which owns the Authier spodumene (lithium) mine in Abitibi. The company, which was controlled by Chinese interests, found itself insolvent in 2019. Australian firm Sayona, which bought NAL’s assets last year, plans to relaunch activities in 2023 and quickly become a major lithium supplier to the Americas. from North. .

Massive government interventions for decades

In recent years, successive governments of the Liberal Party, the Parti Québécois and the Coalition Avenir Québec have bet large sums of money on mining projects, seeing them as a way to create or maintain well-paying jobs in the regions.

Since 2015, Quebec has invested approximately $400 million in 17 projects through the Capital ressources naturelles et energie fund. The biggest beneficiary was Indian giant Tata, which received $125 million in 2016 for a $1 billion-plus iron ore mine on the North Shore.

That’s not all: the government has pumped several other tens of millions of dollars into the industry through Investissement Québec, the Ministry of the Economy, and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

La Caisse not very talkative

For its part, the Caisse de dépôt had promised in 2013 to invest $250 million in Quebec mining companies “in the development phase”. El Diario recently asked the Caisse to take stock of this commitment, but the institution limited itself to saying that it was a shareholder in some fifty Quebec mining companies.

Caisse’s largest investment in the Quebec mining sector is its stake in Osisko Gold Royalties, which was worth more than $225 million at the end of 2021.

The Fonds FTQ leaves its mark

As for the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, it has invested approximately $500 million in more than 125 Quebec mining companies since the 1990s. Today, it has approximately $190 million in investments in 88 companies specializing in exploration, production, and servicing ( drilling, etc).

“Our investment philosophy has always been to be present throughout the mining sector chain,” says Dany Pelletier, Senior Vice President of Investments at Fonds FTQ.

Last year, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ announced a $75 million loan to Australian mining company Champion Iron for the expansion of the Lac Bloom iron ore mine on the North Shore, a project criticized by the Office’s public hearings on the environment. ambient.


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