Friday, November 26, 2010

Revival & Expansion of Canadian Asbestos Mines Causes Uproar

Open Pit Asbestos Mine in Asbestos, Quebec
The recent free trade agreement between India and Canada (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)) will boost the asbestos trade.  This agreement will allow an increase in asbestos exports from Canada to India. This agreement needless to say has caused an uproar among environmental, labour & health groups.  The groups demanded that a ban of the asbestos trade must be deemed a pre-condition for future negotiations on CEPA.
The Quebec government has announced the offer of C$58 million ($57 million) in loan guarantees to convert the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec from an open-pit to an underground operation.  The open-pit reserves are almost exhausted but the deeper deposits are among the biggest in the world.  Canada is the world’s fifth-biggest asbestos producer after Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Brazil.  India is one of the biggest consumers of cancer causing asbestos fibers from Quebec, Canada.  Revival and expansion of the mine would boost asbestos production from the 100-year-old mine from an estimated 15,000 tonnes this year to 180,000 tonnes in 2012 and an eventual capacity of 260,000 tonnes, or about 10 per cent of global production.
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) expresses its support and solidarity with the protest from health and environmental groups against an attempt by Indian and other investors to revive a big Canadian asbestos mine.  Jeffrey and one other remaining mine in the Quebec province of Canada produce chrysotile, or white asbestos, used mainly to reinforce cement used for water pipes and other building materials. Exposure to asbestos fibers causes incurable and fatal lung diseases. In India there is a ban on asbestos mining but trade, manufacture and use of asbestos products is yet to be banned. There is a ban on trade in asbestos waste as well.

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1 comment:

Angelo Garcia III said...

Quebec should announce soon what they plan on doing regarding the loan request to restart Jeffrey Mines. A recent article in the New York Times discussed both sides of this issue: