November 2011

Editor's letter

Bearing north

By A. Hamlyn

Angela Hamlyn

­"Plans are nothing; planning is everything." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

According to the history books, explorer Jacques Cartier thought that he had hit pay dirt when he discovered what he believed to be diamonds and gold on the slopes of Cap aux Diamant (Cape Diamond) in the Cap-Rouge area of central Quebec in 1541. When he returned to France, he learned that the sparkling stones he had carried back from his expedition were actually quartz crystals and iron pyrite. Cartier’s geological faux pas gave rise to the French saying: “faux comme les diamants du Canada” (as false as Canadian diamonds). Today, Canadian diamonds account for approximately 17 per cent of the world’s production. Although operations are currently concentrated in the Northwest Territories and Northern Ontario, Cartier would no doubt feel vindicated as Stornoway Diamond Corporation’s Renard project is on track to become Quebec’s first diamond mine.

The potential that Cartier imagined centuries ago is certainly being realized today as the Quebec minerals industry represents a business in excess of $6 billion and accounts for more than 50,000 direct jobs. However, Mother Nature surely did not have convenience in mind when she deposited Quebec’s mineral riches, many of which reside north of the 49th parallel.

In this issue, we take a close look at the Quebec mining industry in the context of Le Plan Nord, an ambitious $80 billion economic, social and environmental plan to develop the mining, forestry and energy resources of Northern Quebec over the next 25 years. Writer Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco speaks with representatives from industry, government and communities as she explores some of the prospects and pitfalls of what has been referred to as “the project of a generation.” No matter what side of the debate one finds oneself, it seems clear that the particulars of how the plan is carried out will undoubtedly have tremendous consequences on this, and future generations.

This issue’s featured project profiles how Indian conglomerate Tata Steel and New Millennium Iron Corporation (NML) are realizing their own ambitious plans as they join forces to develop a high-grade iron project in northeastern Quebec and Labrador. Through the joint venture called Tata Steel Minerals Canada, Tata Steel will get access to a valuable iron source it needs for its European operations, and NML to the capital it needs to develop a 210-kilometre-long chain of deposits.

Be sure to check out the “last call” for CIM award nominations – closing on December 15. Don’t miss this opportunity to shine the light on the achievements of colleagues who are making a difference in the many facets of the industry. Finally, nominations are also being sought for some key CIM Council positions, including president-elect (2012-2013) and vice-president districts 2, 4 and 6. Nominations are due by December 31 and more information can be found on page 53 (English) and page 62 (French).

Angela Hamlyn,

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