A Labrador MHA is criticizing the provincial government for its lack of involvement in a process that she claims could help create jobs in her area but will, instead, see them go to Quebec.
According to Yvonne Jones, a feasibility study will look at creating a new rail line and port facilities for moving iron ore out of the Labrador Trough area. The study will reportedly involve Canadian National Railway, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (which manages public pension funds), and a number of mining companies with interests in Labador and northern Quebec.
The study relates to a lack of rail capacity to deal with the transportation of minerals in the years ahead, and Jones said investments that could benefit Labrador appear to be destined for Sept-Îles, Que., likely creating a second rail line leading to the community.
“Why aren’t we looking at building a railway right across Labrador so that we can transport Labrador ore and ship it directly from Labrador?,” asks Jones, the Liberal critic on natural resources. “Why do we have to continue to do it through Sept-Îles?”
Labrador Iron Mines announced last week the feasibility study will proceed.
Jones said Sept-Îles has benefited greatly since the Government of Quebec first introduced a rail system for transporting minerals more than 50 years ago, helping it grow from a small fishing community to a thriving town with a population exceeding 20,000.
She feels the provincial government should be pushing for a feasibility study to build rail lines leading to a port facility in Labrador. She expects such a development would create long-term employment in Labrador.
“We’ve got to have some vision of where we’re going for the next 50 years in the mining industry in Labrador, and right now they’re not having that vision. They’re not demonstrating it in any productive way when it comes to building the infrastructure to support the industry.”
See EARLIER, page D2
Earlier report covered some points, department says
A spokeswoman for Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy said he would not comment on Jones’ concerns. She said new rail lines will help support the development of mining in the Labrador Trough and benefit the region as a whole.
She also directed The Telegram to a January 2011 report prepared for the department by Stassinu Stantec Ltd. Partnership on infrastructure constraints in relation to future development of iron resources in Labrador.
It includes an analysis of potential new port sites in Labrador and identified 22 bays and inlets suitable for harbour locations. Goose Bay was found to be the only one not located along the Strait of Belle Isle, an area where pack ice would reduce the shipping season by four-to-five months, according to the report.
It also found that a 590-kilometre rail line connecting Ross Bay Junction — almost 360 kilometres north of Sept-Îles — to Goose Bay will cost $2.35 billion.