After winning the general election last April, the Quebec
Liberal party is taking steps to follow through on its commitment
to northern development by giving new momentum to the Plan
Nord. The government has indicated that it plans to invest
C$3 billion in infrastructure in order to develop the north. An
important element in northern development is transportation access
from the resource areas of the north, particularly the Labrador
Trough, to port.
On July 21, 2014, the Secrétariat au Plan Nord launched a
call for expressions of interest to identify private partners
interested in participating in a feasibility study to evaluate the
need and options for the construction of a multi-user rail line
from Sept-Îles to the Labrador Trough. The line is intended
to open up the iron-ore-rich region and provide the transportation
infrastructure necessary to develop several iron ore projects in
the area. The study will estimate costs and determine the best
railway option, including increasing capacity on existing lines and
the building of a new line. The Quebec government (Government) will
contribute up to C$20 million to the study. The Labrador Trough is
among the world's largest iron ore deposits, with annual
production of approximately 50 million tonnes. The Government
believes that mining companies conducting mineral exploration in
the Labrador Trough could be interested in participating in the
study and benefiting from its results. By proceeding with a call
for expressions of interest, the Government hopes to garner support
for the project and make it possible to share the costs with other
private partners. The Government has indicated that it favours the
creation of a joint venture between private-sector partners to
implement a future rail line project.
A feasibility study for such a rail line was previously
initiated in August 2012, which included a group of
six mining companies. The project was then suspended in March 2013.
The market realities at the time resulted in delays in mine
development projects located in and around the Labrador Trough. A
review of the project indicated that mine construction schedules
and diverging needs for each specific individual project made it
difficult to obtain the critical volumes of iron ore necessary to
support the building of new rail and terminal infrastructure.
Concerns were also raised with respect to the technical challenges
associated with the construction of the rail line over 800
kilometres of rough terrain.
Those interested in participating in the feasibility study are
asked to communicate with the Plan Nord Secretariat before July 29,
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