Yes there really is an asbestos mining town called Asbestos, Quebec and it is home to the Jeffrey Mine. Asbestos mining has been an industry in Canada since the 1870s and asbestos was once considered to be one Canada’s greatest mineral exports with ample Canadian Government support. The primary asbestos mining has been in the Province of Quebec. When the dangers of asbestos exposure became more commonly known the mine workers, who had little protection and suffered serious illnesses from asbestos exposure and dangerous conditions in the mines, rebelled and strikes put asbestos mining companies out of business. Today only two workable mines remain. They are the mine at Thetford Mines and the Jeffrey Mine pictured above. The asbestos mines rely on subsidization and support from the Quebec Government and the Canadian Government.
The Jeffrey Mine has been subject to temporary closure since October 2011. The continued operation of the Jeffrey Mine requires Quebec Government loan guarantees and Canadian Government funding which is objected to by many. The Jeffrey Mine is located in the aptly named Town of Asbestos Quebec. According to the 2011 Canadian Government census Asbestos has a population of 7,096. It is understood that there are 376 employees normally employed at the Jeffrey Mine site.
On June 29, 2012 it was announced that the Quebec Government would give loans of $58,000,000 and private investors headed by Balcorp Ltd. would invest another $25,000,000 to the cost of refurbishing the mine. The reopening of the mine will create 425 jobs. This Quebec Government move will likely assist in the re-election of a Liberal member of the National Assembly in the upcoming election. It is anticipated that the mine’s production would mostly be exported to India where there is growing demand for asbestos but reduced supply due to restrictions on asbestos exports in most producing countries.
The other asbestos mine, which is also closed, is at the City of Thetford Mines, 94 kilometers away from Asbestos. That mine, at Lac d’amiante also closed in October 2011 after a cave-in. Due to the closure the mine owner LAB Chrysotile went bankrupt in January 2012. Thetford mines has a population of 25,609 and 350 were put out of work by the mine closure. The city has been diversifying its economy and creating new jobs in other industries.
The asbestos industry has been hoping for help from the Quebec Government and the Canadian Government to allow the mines to be reopened. It is anticipated that the Lac d’amiante Mines asbestos mine will get similar provincial government support. The danger of asbestos exposure is becoming more well known and with the current reputation of asbestos, mining is less likely to resume. Let your member of Parliament know how you feel. If you live in Quebec there is more you can do with a provincial election expected soon with asbestos likely to be a prominent issue.