The Parti Quebecois’ narrow election victory yesterday gave the province’s long-suffering separatists something to cheer about – at least until deadly gunfire from a lunatic introduced tragedy as Pauline Marois celebrated her political party’s win.
The election outcome, not to mention the gunfire, likely put a bit of a scare into people – especially outside Canada – who weren’t paying attention. But even that was muted: despite the mix of gunplay, politics and separatism, by late-morning the story had been relegated to the bottom of nytimes.com‘s World page.
As watershed moments go, it hardly compares to Charles de Gaulle’s1967 declaration of “Vive le Quebec libre!” in Montreal (he cut short his visit and flew back to France two days later) or the 1995 referendum, which the sovereigntists came within a whisker of winning (with a vague, convoluted question).
What does the PQ’s minority government mean for miners and mining exploration projects in the province?
The short answer is very little, although the PQ’s left-wing instincts may result in attempts to introduce new mining-related taxes as the cash-starved government looks to a golden goose that’s been making more noise lately.
The “economically challenged” province of Quebec desperately needs the revenue – more than $20 billion annually – that the province’s mining industry produces, not to mention jobs for about 52,000 people. Agnico-Eagle, ArcelorMittal, Rio Tinto, Cliffs Natural Resources, IAMgold, Inmet, Xstrata – they all have operations in Quebec (and I’m probably missing some), producing gold, silver, copper, nickel, iron ore, titanium and more. Chinese companies have also invested in Quebec mining operations.
The revenues, jobs and accompanying taxes drawn from Quebec mining activity will only increase in the coming years, as the extension of Highway 167 opens up the province’s north for mineral development. Dependent on Jean Charest’s ambitious Plan Nord – which is supported by the Parti Quebecois – are mining projects planning to produce gold at Eleonore (Goldcorp, G) and Clearwater (Eastmain, ER), diamonds at Renard (Stornoway, SWY), uranium at Matoush (Strateco, RSC) and copper/molybdenum at MacLeod Lake (Western Troy, WRY), as well as Barrick and Goldcorp joint ventures.
Quebec has invested heavily in the mining sector and the province has long been ranked by the Fraser Institute as one of the world’s top mining jurisdictions. No premier or political party calling the shots in the National Assembly – and particularly a minority government – will want to, or be able to, change that.
Via World of Mining