The relaunch of mining in Murdochville is greeted with excitement and apprehension


The relaunch of mining in Murdochville is welcomed with excitement and apprehension

On April 30, 2002, the smelter closed for good, marking the end of mining activities in Murdochville.

The eventual restart of the copper mine in Murdochville leaves no one indifferent in the Gaspé municipality. Twenty years after the smelter closed, Osisko Metals announced Monday its intention to purchase the mine. Citizens dream of a revival of industrial activity to revitalize the village, but others raise questions.

Osisko Metals confirmed this week its desire to buy the mine in order to exploit copper ore there.

Many residents of Murdochville, especially those who have lived there most of their lives, are delighted that activities are resuming at the mine.

Manon Deschênes and Jacques Malouin.

Seeing a city that exists is one thing, and seeing a city that lives is another, says Manon Deschênes, owner of a hair salon who has resided in Murdochville since 1973.

“I would like that before I die, to see my city live again. »

— Manon Deschênes, resident and owner of a hair salon in Murdochville

We really hope that [the city] will live, that we will find a little of what we had in the 80s, the effervescence of Murdochville, adds Jacques Malouin, a resident.

Frédérique Thibodeau moved to Murdochville with his family a few years ago. She chose the former mining town for its tranquility and wide open spaces.

Without being opposed to the project to revive mining activities, she still fears losing the quality of life she was looking for by settling in the heart of Gaspésie.

The population of the municipality amounts to 600 inhabitants, but nothing comparable to the time of the mining boom, when nearly 5000 people lived Murdochville.

There, I hear the noise of the machines and I didn't come for that, because otherwise I would have stayed in the suburbs of Montreal, explains Ms. Thibodeau.

She says she is aware of the positive aspects of the project, such as economic benefits and job creation in particular, but she keeps in mind the negative aspects that could come with the reopening of the mine.

“We don't want to welcome Osisko with open arms without asking questions. »

— Frédérique Thibodeau, resident of Murdochville

On the website of the City of Murdochville, you can read questions asked by residents and also the answers of the promoter and of the Municipality.

But for Frédérique Thibodeau, many questions remain unanswered.

What are your intentions? What are you going to do? What are you telling me you're not going to do? But it's also perfect, you tell me you're going to do that, how are you going to do it? How are you going to make sure that it's protected, that I won't be affected. These are all details that we don't have yet, she continues.

Osisko Metals says it wants to invite the people of Murdochville to a public meeting at the end of the summer holidays. summer to give more details about this project.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done before Manon Deschênes and Jacques Malouin's wish comes true.

If the results are positive, Osisko Metals may launch commercial production of 10 years from now, according to the company's president and COO, Jeff Hussey.

The bill for this investment would then exceed one billion dollars and hundreds of created.

Line Cyr works at the post office of the municipality.

Line Cyr grew up in Murdochville. She recounts her memories of when the mine was in operation and sees this announcement as a godsend, especially for what this revival will bring to the municipality.

I don't know if I will experience what will happen in the next few years, but I tell myself that for those who will be behind me, it will be a good thing, underlines Ms. Cyr.

“The people of Murdochville need a boost and we're gonna get it. I'm confident.

—Line Cyr, Murdochville resident

The prefect of Haute-Gaspésie, Guy Bernatchez, welcomes a possible resumption of mining activities in Murdochville. For him, the entire region, from Gaspé to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, would benefit from the economic boom that the mine would generate.

Guy Bernatchez, prefect of the MRC de La Haute-Gaspésie (archives)

For the prefect, it is essential that future workers hired by the company settle in the region. We will have to be extremely vigilant on this so that the company does not go in and out with its employees, even that it would be an obligation in my opinion, adds Mr. Bernatchez.

“The company may have to be involved in the construction new housing in the communities. »

— Guy Bernatchez, Prefect of the MRC of Haute-Gaspésie

Some residents declined to comment after news of the Osisko Metals acquisition. Some still have fresh memories of the disputes surrounding the referendum on the question of the city's closure almost twenty years ago.

Line Cyr is aware that the tensions of the past may have hurt the population of Murdochville, but she remains optimistic for the future.

Of course, with everything we've been through in the past few years, it's been a bit hard for all of us, but I imagine that over time, it all settled down and when you see whatever the future holds for us, we are very happy, concludes Line Cyr.

With information from Jean-François Deschênes.

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