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Canada's troubled asbestos industry gets a $58 million lifeline

The Jeffrey open-pit asbestos mine is shown on October 7, 2011 in Asbestos Que. Canada's beleaguered asbestos industry, which has been a target of activists who link its product to cancer, has been given a $58 million lease on life by the Quebec government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
June 29, 2012 - 4:29 PM

ASBESTOS, Que. - Canada's beleaguered asbestos industry has been given a $58 million lease on life by the Quebec government.

The troubled Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que., has been the target of critics who say Canada shouldn't be exporting the fibrous substance to developing countries where safety standards are lax.

It was one of the two last sites in Canada to produce the substance — and the other one, also in Quebec, is currently inactive.

But the mine will be revived with a loan announced today in Asbestos, Que.

That provinvial cash will cover more than two-thirds of the cost of renovating and reopening the mine — and keeping it running for another 20 years.

The mine suspended production last year due to financial problems.

The provincial government has always maintained any contribution by it is conditional on investment by Balcorp Ltd.

Company president Baljit Chadha indicated last year he was close to securing the necessary funding from an international consortium of investors.

Industry proponents insist asbestos can be used safely if it is handled properly and say the chrysotile asbestos manufactured at the Jeffrey Mine is not as dangerous as other forms of the material.

The industry's attempt to restart the Jeffrey Mine has been pummelled by an international anti-asbestos campaign led by physcians, activists and asbestos victims who insist the material is linked to cancer.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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