Quebec does not rule out offering minerals to attract battery manufacturers

“How do we use our resources to create value here?” asks Minister of Economy and Energy Pierre Fitzgibbon. “If you (offer) partial ownership to any actor, why not?”

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The Minister of Economy and Energy of Quebec, Pierre Fitzgibbon, does not close the door on offering minerals, such as lithium, to attract new players in the battery sector.

Radio-Canada reported last week The government is willing to sell its shares in the Nemaska ​​​​Lithium company to convince Honda to choose Quebec for the construction of a cathode factory.

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Questioned Tuesday during a news conference in Montreal, Fitzgibbon refrained from commenting directly on the issue, but mentioned the possibility of offering minerals to attract electric vehicle manufacturers.

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“In the world what we are seeing is a search for minerals. Car companies, for example, are concerned about access to lithium, graphite, sodium, phosphate and nickel. So it is certain that in Quebec we are privileged to have these resources” and “Quebec has many deposits of these types of minerals,” the Minister first explained, adding: “How do we use our resources to create value here? So if it (offers) partial ownership for any player, why not?”

Nemaska ​​Lithium is about to open a lithium mine, the Whabouchi mine, in the Cree territory of the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region of northern Quebec. Nemaska ​​​​Lithium also has a production plant in Bécancour and the province owns 50 percent of the company’s shares.

During a speech to the Canadian Club of Montreal on Tuesday, Fitzgibbon congratulated his government for investing “massively in the battery sector” with the goal of creating “an integrated sector.”

He mentioned mining companies Nemaska ​​Lithium and Sayona, battery component manufacturers such as GM-POSCO, Ford-EcoPro BM, cell manufacturer Northvolt and vehicle manufacturers such as Lion Electric.

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“This is the first time in the history of Quebec that we can take resources and conserve them here and create wealth,” he said.

The government has so far announced $16 billion in investments in the battery sector, “but I am working with Investissement Québec on other projects,” Fitzgibbon said.

union protest

The minister’s conference was delayed by a union demonstration.

Before Fitzgibbon took the stage, several dozen protesters entered the Congress Palace room where the event was taking place.

Equipped with megaphones, whistles and musical instruments, the protesters, carrying banners of the Quebec Government Professionals Union (SPGQ) and the Confederation of National Unions (CSN), remained at the scene for almost 30 minutes.

The protesters went to the table where Fitzgibbon was sitting and he left the room for about 15 minutes.

There was no intervention from the police or security personnel and the protesters ended up leaving without being escorted.

Some 26,000 SPGQ members have yet to agree on a new contract with Quebec. These include computer analysts, inspectors, accountants and biologists.

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