“Premier Legault is clear about his intent to promote Québec as a leader in energy efficiency. Québec’s energy transition offers several opportunities for synergies between the mining and energy industries. As an example, transport electrification is one area in which Québec is very proactive in terms of R&D.”
On October 18, 2018, you were appointed Minister of Energy and Natural Resources in Premier François Legault's new government. What are the Ministry’s priorities and how does the mining sector feature in its strategy?
The mining sector plays a critical role in Québec’s economy and in the dynamism of our region. Our government relies on the significant contribution of this sector in establishing a more sustainable economy, especially with regard to the challenges of energy transition. Our vision is to develop our mineral resources in a responsible manner to promote durable prosperity in Québec. My priorities as a minister are economic performance, exemplary environmental and social standards, support of innovation and the promotion of Québécois leadership.
We want to support Québec in becoming an increasingly competitive mining jurisdiction that favors investment and development of mining projects.
How much progress has been made since Plan Nord was launched, and what can the Ministry do to advance its development?
The territory north of the 49th parallel presents particular challenges due to its geographic, demographic, social and environmental characteristics. This region is also opportunity-rich and has not revealed all of its secrets yet. We will work together with the northern communities to better address their needs and priorities, and to ensure the development of this potential in a responsible manner.
Our government is pursuing the socio-economic development of Québec’s northern region through the Société du Plan Nord, to make sure we include all these considerations and coordinate the different actions.
Many mining companies have highlighted the length and cost of the permitting process as challenges. What can be done to address this issue and streamline the procedure?
I have already met several industry representatives and their concerns are well-understood. Our government has defined an objective to achieve increased economic performance, and as part of that, we will prioritize giving administrative support and providing a faster response to the different requests. We would like the different processes to be more predictable for mining companies, especially in terms of timing, so that they can better plan their activities and be in good position when the market conditions are optimal. This work has already started and the industry can be assured that we will pursue this objective diligently to deliver clear results.
We have a close and constructive relationship with the Québec Mining Association and the Québec Mineral Exploration Association, which are both active partners in our Ministry’s Committee on Administrative Simplification. In this context, the improvement of administrative performance will be a reality.
What can the Ministry do to nurture a more favorable climate for investment in Québec mining?
We will rely on innovation to attract investors in projects that will offer competitive economics, but that will also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases, one of our era’s greatest challenges.
Premier Legault is clear about his intent to promote Québec as a leader in energy efficiency. Québec’s energy transition offers several opportunities for synergies between the mining and energy industries. As an example, transport electrification is one area in which Québec is very proactive in terms of R&D. We support initiatives such as Propulsion Québec, an industrial cluster mobilizing all actors in intelligent and electric land transportation around structural projects, especially in the field of lithium-ion batteries. Several mining companies are part of Propulsion Québec.
How does the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative support mining companies in developing more responsible practices?
Initiatives such as TSM showcase the engagement of industry members to implement the necessary efforts to continuously improve practices. It is a pledge for quality and respect that can contribute to strengthening the industry’s credibility. I sincerely believe that the social and environmental norms that we give ourselves as a society will be reflected by the quality and success of our industries in the long term.
Québec has risen to sixth in the Fraser Institute’s ranking of global mining jurisdictions. What makes the province an attractive mining destination?
Québec is endowed with rich and diversified production. In addition to our strong position in traditional metals like iron and gold, our territory also hosts minerals like lithium, graphite and rare earths, which are highly strategic for the future. From my perspective, what makes Québec a leader is its people, companies, associations, research centers, universities and colleges that all contribute to our globally recognized expertise.
Do you have a final message for the audience of Global Business Reports?
As shown by different studies, Québec is one of the most attractive jurisdictions for mining investors in the world. As minister, I would like to send a clear message to investors about the stability of the business environment in Québec. We will be custodians and promoters of the competitive advantages that make Québec a business destination of choice.
Mining development will play a key role in the realization of our sustainable prosperity vision for Québec. This will be done by respecting the efforts carried out by project developers, respecting the host and native communities, and respecting the environment and the heritage we will leave for future generations.