Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik February 18, 2012 - 2:24 pm

Charest plans to give away power to mining companies: PQ

Is Hydro-Quebec making "secret contracts" to push Plan Nord ahead?


Quebec’s power corporation, Hydro-Quebec, has made “secret contracts”  to offer cheap electricity to a major Chinese-owned mining company that wants to set up shop in Nunavik, suggests a story in the Feb. 18 edition of the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir.

This week the Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said in the National Assembly that the proposed iron mine by Adriana Resources, located to south of Kuujjuaq, was getting a deal from Hydro-Quebec.

Adriana would pay a rate of only 3.6 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, while the usual price paid by manufacturers in the rest of Quebec is 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour, she said.

Premier Jean Charest said Marois was “storytelling.”

And it was Adriana Resources who had suggested the 3.6-cent rate, Clément Gignac, his minister of natural resources, later told journalists.

That bargain-basement rate was only a “working hypothesis” put forward by the mining company and Hydro-Quebec had never accepted that rate, he said.

On Feb. 16 the PQ then disclosed a report filed with federal authorities by Adriana Resources, which states that “since 2006, Adriana has been in negotiations with Hydro-Québec, and has provided an updated figure of $0.036/kWh.”

“Either Hydro-Quebec has effectively negotiated on this basis with Adriana Resources Inc. Or Adriana Resources Inc. has misled its shareholders. Either way, it’s a serious issue for the largest mining project under Plan Nord,” said the PQ, which accused Charest of subsidizing mining companies as part of its scheme to develop the northern portion of the province.

Environmental groups also called on the Charest government to “force” Hydro-Quebec to disclose contracts for its supply of electricity on the “cheap.”

This past week Charest also stated his government plans to advance ahead more rapidly with Plan Nord than originally proposed and will move to establish the Société du Plan Nord corporation.

That body will oversee money spent under Plan Nord for new infrastructure, such as ports and roads.

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