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The Horne foundry has targets to achieve, recalls Minister Charette

Photo: Adil Boukind Archives Le Devoir Estimated investments to reduce emissions of pollutants into the air would have increased by 50%, which would force Glencore to consider closing the Horne smelter, according to Radio-Canada.

Stéphane Blais – The Canadian Press

12:11 p.m.

  • Quebec

The issue of the Horne foundry, in Rouyn-Noranda, once again takes a political turn after Radio-Canada revealed that the Glencore board of directors was to meet soon to decide on the future smelter, while the estimated cost of reducing arsenic emissions would have increased by 50%.

The Minister of the Environment recalled, Tuesday morning, that Glencore has obligations to respect and that it must achieve the various pollutant emissions targets if it wants to continue operating its smelter in Rouyn-Noranda.

Benoit Charette reacted to information according to which Glencore would consider closing the Horne smelter if investments to achieve air quality targets are too high.

“It’s not a question of investment, it’s a question of results” and “we need these investments to achieve them,” said the minister.

Speaking of the “results”, the minister was referring to the arsenic emission target of 15 nanograms per cubic meter of air (ng/m3), a threshold that the company must reach in 2027 and which has been established by the Quebec public health authorities as well as the Ministry of the Environment.

In order to reach this threshold, Glencore presented a $500 million plan in the summer of 2022.

However, according to Radio-Canada, the estimated investments would have increased by 50%, which would force the owners of the company to consider closing the foundry.

The closure of the foundry would be “major”, indicated the CAQ MP for Abitibi-Est, Pierre Dufour, referring to the job losses and the consequences on other businesses, such as CCR refinery, located in Montreal East, which gives a second life to metals, such as copper, recycled by Glencore.

However, he called for caution regarding the information published on Tuesday. “We have to be careful, you know, there are some negotiation games in there, possibly,” the MP pointed out.

The opposition attacks the CAQ

“I hope that the CAQ will not give in to these threats and will not kowtow even more,” said Émilise Lessard-Therrien, co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire.

Former MP for Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue, Ms. Lessard-Therrien stressed that “no one wants the company to close” and that “what we want is for it to respect standards like elsewhere in the world.”

She also noted in a press release that “the federal government and the Quebec government have extended millions of dollars to support Glencore in the modernization of the smelter” and that “the multinational has room” to do so.

PQ MP Joël Arseneau also referred to the profits of the multinational. “Glencore distributed $7.1 billion in dividends to its shareholders in 2023. The CAQ cannot give in to the blackmail of foreign multinationals on the back of the health of Quebecers,” he wrote on X (ex -Twitter).

For his part, Liberal MP Frédéric Beauchemin indicated on social networks that “the incompetence” of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) “also affects the development of all of Quebec”.< /p>

“What will the CAQ do to supply the supply chain with rare minerals that only the Horne Foundry supplies to Quebec ? What is the contingency plan ?” asked the Liberal MP.

Thierry Larivière, communications advisor for the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), which represents foundry workers, indicated Tuesday morning that he was waiting to obtain more information on the situation before reacting.

Objective of 15 ng/m3 for 2027

An agreement with Quebec, which was signed with the Liberal government in 2017, allowed arsenic emissions from the smelter to reach an annual average of 100 ng/m3, or 33 times more than the standard .

In July 2022, a report from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) revealed that, over a period of 70 years, an excess number of citizens of Rouyn-Noranda, between one and 14, would develop cancer if the Glencore company did not reduce the concentration of arsenic in the air produced by the smelter.

In March 2023, the government required the Horne smelter to put in place a plan that would allow it to meet the target of 15 ng/m3 arsenic from 2027, which would be, if the foundry meets the target, five times higher than the environmental standard, which is 3 ng/m3.

Last spring, the government also required the company to present an action plan by 2027 to eventually achieve the 3 ng/m3 standard.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116