Quebec Solidaire wants to partially nationalize industrial mining

In this file photo, a haul truck carrying a full load drives away from a mining shovel at the Shell Albian Sands oilsands mine near Fort McMurray, Alta., Wednesday, July 9, 2008. A new report is accusing the global mining industry of prioritizing profit at the expense of workers and local communities during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Accusing the CAQ government of wanting to offer Quebec's minerals to private companies as an 'open bar,' Quebec Solidaire proposed to partially nationalize mines of lithium and graphite, metals used to make batteries for electric vehicles.

The party drew a parallel between its proposal and the nationalization of hydropower, which allowed the province to control the resource, according to Vincent Marissal, Quebec Solidaire representative for Rosemont.

“This is the best solution for Quebec,” he said.

The province is expected to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. Quebec Solidaire said the province should act fast to regulate extraction of the minerals required for manufacturing.

“If we were to resume work on James Bay, the Manic, and re-found Hydro-Quebec, would we give that to a foreign company? '' Said Mr. Marissal in an interview.

Premier François Legault is well aware of the value of lithium, which he's compared to a 'gold mine.' A year ago, he said he wanted to manufacture “100 per cent Quebec batteries” and export them all over the world.

But today, according to Marissal, the government is only going “halfway.”

“Why not take what's ours? It's up to us, it's in our soil. And the best way to make sure we do that right is to take care of it ourselves,” he said.

Quebec Solidaire estimated the partial nationalization of the mines would cost the Quebec government between $600 million and $1 billion.

For now, the party's objective is not to nationalize all the mines. According to Marissal, that would be too costly.

Instead, he said the province should aim to own 50 per cent-plus-one.

He said that would “allow us to have control over [extraction]."

"The whole chain, from the moment we start digging,” he said.

-- This article from the Canadian Press was first published on November 15, 2020

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