Less than two months after the Quebec government gave Jeffrey mine a $58 million loan, the mine has encountered a severe financial crisis and has laid off about 80 if its one hundred workers.June 29, 2012, François Vaudreuil (president, CSD trade union confederation), Hugues Grimard (mayor of Asbestos), Yvon Vallières (member of the Québec National Assembly) and Bernard Coulombe (president of Jeffrey Mine Inc) celebrate the $58 million loan given by the Québec government to open the Jeffrey asbestos mine.
The mine now belongs to Mineral Fibre (MF) Inc., a company owned by Baljit Chadha and Bernard Coulombe. Chadha, a Montreal businessman, has exported asbestos from the Jeffrey mine to developing countries for the past sixteen years. He is a personal friend and a fund-raiser for Quebec premier Jean Charest. Coulombe was president of Jeffrey Mine Inc, the company that was the previous owner of the mine.
Coulombe stated that the costs they are paying for carrying out the work to complete the underground mine were taking “a dangerous escalation”. He said that the work stoppage was a strategic decision aimed at giving time to negotiate agreements for lower prices with the mining contractor firm, C Thysen MAC, and the main suppliers for the acquisition of materials.
The workers have been laid off work apparently until mid-November.
Employees and residents of Asbestos are greatly concerned by the lay-off.
This is just one more example of the irresponsibility of the Quebec Charest government in giving a $58 million loan to finance a deadly, dying industry that has no future. The people of Asbestos deserve better. Charest is playing with their lives and their hopes for sordid political reasons to win the riding in the present election. This is not political leadership. It harms the community and it brings shame on Quebec. The $58 million should be given to build sustainable and healthy economic development that will truly help the region.
Kathleen Ruff, founder, RightOnCanada.ca