Increase in metal prices and economic upswing in mining activities
The strong international demand and the incredible economic
growth of countries such as China and India have driven
a significant increase of metal and mineral prices, which have
reached historic highs since the beginning of 2006.
The price of gold attained US$700 per ounce at the beginning
of May; just five years ago it was US$250. The prices of all
metals witnessed spectacular increases. For example, in the last
three years, the price of nickel has increased by 87 per cent, copper
by 242 per cent, and zinc by 262 per cent.
This incredible increase in metal prices has greatly boosted
mining activity in Quebec. Exploration is in full swing with more
than 200 on-going projects; several mining projects are at the
advanced exploration stage and several others are preparing to
go into production. According to analysts, the outlook for the
next few years is a growth scenario.
Major benefits for the regions
The mining industry is central to the dynamics of all Quebec
regions. Its contribution to the economic and social life of the
regions and cities through salaries, electricity, tax fees, social
and recreational activities, local and regional purchases, and
scholarships amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.
The presence of the industry also fosters the development
of regional expertise for sub-contractors, transformation
companies, manufacturers, and suppliers of specialized
services. The mining industry also contributes to
the implementation of research centres, sometimes far
from the big cities.
The mining industry is enjoying spectacular
growth in Quebec. However, in fields such as
exploration, energy, environment, and human
resources, the challenges remain tremendous.
In exploration, most projects target precious
metals, while base metal reserves have been
declining for several years.
Concerning energy, the QMA is preoccupied by
the constant impact of rising electricity costs. On
an international level, Quebec has always held an advantageous
position due to its competitive electricity costs. For the Quebec
mining industry, this represents an important element of its
competitive position on world markets.
Concerning the environment, the mining industry commits
to the concept of sustainable development; the mining sector
must, however, contend with a very high number of projects,
rules, and regulations at the provincial and federal levels.
Technical difficulties are often easier to overcome than the red
tape constraining the industry.
The Quebec Mining Association deplores the poor communications
between federal and provincial departments concerning
the environment. This situation causes duplications and
increased regulation levels, which result in non-productive,
costly, and heavy environmental management burdens for its
The greatest challenge for the mining sector remains the
lack of personnel. In Quebec, the mining industry generates
about 50,000 jobs, of which about 12,000 are in extraction, per
se. The industry lacks technicians, engineers, scientists, trades
The QMA has set up several projects in partnership with various
teaching establishments. Continuing educations programs
had been designed with school commissions to maintain workers’
competency levels. Through partnerships, the Association
has worked to implement a new sectorial committee concerning
workers in the mining sector. Some universities and colleges
have been contacted to find ways to attract students into mining