At a time when the mining and manufacture of asbestos has been virtually eradicated from the developed world, the plan to continue mining and exporting chrysotile asbestos from the Jeffrey Mine in Québec has been a continuing source of friction and ridicule both within Canada and internationally.
The matter came to prominence in June, prior to the start of Québec's election campaign, when Premier Charest committed $58m in loans to the operators of the Jeffrey Mine to allow them to reopen the mine. The move was predicted to create between 400 and 500 direct jobs, and up to 1000 indirect jobs.
In one of her first acts after being elected premier of Québec, Pauline Marois, has now promised that the loan will be revoked. The cancellation of the loan will almost certainly mean the end of the Québec asbestos industry.
The Federal government had previously defended the asbestos industry and had resisted efforts to add chrysotile asbestos to the list of hazardous substances covered by the Rotterdam Convention. With the change in policy in Québec, it has now announced that it will no longer resist such efforts, and will provide up to $50 million in funding to assist communities affected by the permanent closure of the mine.