Mining News

More on Northern Promise

Posted by Alana Wilson on 9/16/2013 3:30:26 PM

By Dr. Kenneth P. Green

The Financial Post has another installment out in its “Northern Promise” series of articles examining development in some of Canada’s more remote regions. Not surprisingly, a lot of those developments revolve around extractive industries for both petroleum and minerals. In the newest installment by Nicolas Van Praet, the focus is on how new mining projects are bringing major infrastructure development to distant Sept-Îles, a remote mining community in the gulf of the St. Lawrence river, some 650 km downriver from Quebec City. As Van Praet documents, Sept-Îles is undergoing significant growth in housing, jobs, hotels, rail transport, recreational areas, and more. And what’s “the catalyst for all this growth”?

A new multi-user wharf south across the Sept-Îles bay at Pointe Noire being built at a cost of $220-million. When completed, the 450-metre-long dock will be able to accommodate up to 50 million tonnes of material a year carried by the largest bulk carriers in the world — 350,000-tonne-and-up Chinamax ships. Another 50 million tonnes of capacity can be added by expanding the dock facility later.

The article vividly illustrates how expanding mining operations has major knock-on effects for regional development in places where poverty and joblessness still have a significant toe-hold:

Sept-Îles is already home to one of Canada’s largest trailer parks. Dubbed “Place Ferland,” the maze of 1,200 mobile homes has three separate entrances off the highway. First-time home buyers for whom most houses are out of their price range have gravitated there. But even these shelters have climbed in price to nearly $200,000 amid the recent housing crunch.

The biggest challenge facing Sept-Îles will be managing growth:

The town now harbours a population of 26,000. The economic development department expects that to double by 2028 in the most optimistic scenario. During the next five years alone, it predicts 1,500 new households will join the assessment rolls.

Read the whole thing. Companion articles in the series are here:
Northern Promise: Arctic road to prosperity paved with obstacles
Northern promise: Cheap oil locks Canada’s polar riches in deep freeze
Northern Promise: Home of the world’s richest gold mine braces for coming headwinds
Northern Promise: Ring of Fire smoulders anew

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