We should not allow our complacency to undermine what could potentially be the best boost to our economy since hydro and the lottery. This plan amounts to surface-picking / recovering rubble piles left behind during the massive mining of asbestos. There are 500 M tonnes of rubble piles which are accessible by bucket and loader. Magnesium is selling for $4.20 US / kg (as of August 2015 – and has previously traded for more.) Magnesium is present in the rubble at levels from 25% and higher, and it is of high quality. Other valuable resources are also present. Revenues from the magnesium alone could generate upwards of half a trillion dollars.
*Update – magnesium prices have dropped significantly since this article was written. The current (31 March, 2016) value of $2.03/kg changes the aove math considerably. The historic high price was over $6/kg at the end of Q1 in 2008. Nevertheless, even with this lower price, the resource is worth as much as all the oil in Alberta, and the cost of transformation is still much less.*
Currently, China produces 75% of the world’s magnesium, and Canada is not even on the map; Canada is a net importer. The US market is protected from Chinese imports by high antidumping duties and is supplied instead by Israel and domestic primary and secondary production.
Some main markets for magnesium include automotive, electronics, and battery.
Not only could this provide funds through taxes and duties for the Quebec government, but there are other sectors which would benefit greatly, as well. The entire region would be re-energized with new industry, tourism, services, not to mention recycling technology. The truth is that we can not simply bury this rubble under a canopy of trees (and falsely call it green) for future generations to clean up. The rubble from the mining of asbestos can not simply be left, and we can simply not turn down this economic opportunity. This green project could fuel an industry, reduce un-employment, re-energize an entire region, and provide for more independence on the part of Quebec, if properly managed. It will also greatly contribute to a cleaner environment and a fueling of green industries which could grow in the shadow of the ‘Projet du Grand Nord.’