QUEBEC - If the Quebec government will guarantee a $58-million loan, and if mine workers will create a reserve fund, the Jeffrey asbestos mine in the town of Asbestos will expand to underground operations. There is one other asbestos mine in Canada, the Black Lake mine at Thetford Mines 90 km away.
The miners are being asked to agree to a five-year labour contract and establish a $10-million reserve fund. Money for the fund would come from 10% of their salaries. At the end of the period, if the mine is still operating, the $10 million will be distributed among the miners. If the mine fails, the government will get control of the fund.
When the $58 million loan is secured, a coalition of local businesses will donate $1.6 million toward the reopening effort.
The town of Asbestos is badly in need of an economic boost. The use of asbestos has been linked to multiple health problems and fallen out of favour. Without markets, the mines have been on the verge of collapse. Reviving the 130-year-old Jeffrey mine would create an estimated 400 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs in the area. The mine is privately owned by Bernard Coulombe.