Canada’s Quebec re-launches less ambitious Plan Nord

Canada’s Quebec re-launches less ambitious Plan Nord Canada’s Quebec presented Wednesday a less ambitious mining development plan that aims to attract about US$40 billion (Cdn$50 billion) in investment for the northern region of the French-speaking province over the next 20 years, down from its 2011 forecast of $64bn (Cdn$80bn).

Premier Philippe Couillard said the province expects to pull $2 billion worth of investments with 17 mining projects over the next five years.

The "Plan Nord" development scheme will take place in 75% of the province's total area, although half of the land will be protected in some fashion.

The province’s far north region contains untapped deposits of iron ore, copper, nickel, zinc, gold, uranium, cobalt, diamonds and other minerals. But depressed commodities prices, particularly for iron ore, have made it very difficult to operate economically in the area as of late.

Late last year U.S miner Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) announced it was closing its Bloom Lake iron mine in the area, after struggling to secure funds to expand it.

In January, Cliffs sought creditor protection for its Canadian arm. And Labrador Iron Mines (TSE:LIM), another Trough miner, followed suit earlier this month.

Second time’s the charm?

This is Quebec’s second attempt to create a plan to fast track the extraction of natural resources in the northern part of the province. Former Premier Jean Charest's government first introduced the idea in 2011, but faced resistance from the official opposition, environmentalists, as well as Inuit and Cree groups.

Couillard says the revamped plan will create about 10,000 jobs during the construction phase, with a further 9,730 positions in mines and related fields.

He noted that creation of a “one-stop” agency that will untangle permitting requests and other red tape for mining companies is one of the main advantages of the face-lifted plan.