Quebec deepens ties with China

Updated: 2011-09-02 14:24

By Yu Ran (China Daily)

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Plan Nord targets Chinese investors for mining, energy development

SHANGHAI - The Plan Nord, or North Plan, a 25-year project aimed at responsible and sustainable development in Northern Quebec, Canada, wants more Chinese investment in the region's rich mining and renewable energy resources.

"The Plan Nord is a long-term, progressive project that will be the benchmark for the sustainable development of northern regions, and we would be very pleased to welcome China as a partner," said Jean Charest, the premier of Quebec, at a conference in Shanghai on Thursday.

This trip is his third official visit to China as the premier.

The Plan Nord, launched in May after years of preparation, is intended to contribute to the development of a new economic template for Quebec, while deepening ties between Quebec and China.

Northern Quebec, an administrative sub-division of Quebec province, is about 12 percent the size of China, and it has tremendous economic potential with abundant natural resources and many possibilities for tourism.

The area covered by the plan offers Quebec's entire mineral resources including nickel, cobalt, platinum, zinc, iron ore and rare earths.

In 2009, $958 million was invested in mining exploration and operations in the area covered by the plan.

"Basically, the mining sector in Quebec is experiencing a boom, and China has become the top foreign destination for Quebec's iron ore exports," said Charest.

Wuhan Iron & Steel Group, China's third-largest steel producer, signed an agreement on Tuesday with Century Iron Mines Corp (CIMC), a Canadian mining company, to acquire a stake and jointly develop an iron ore project in Quebec.

There is "a quite promising future for Chinese companies to invest or bring advanced technologies back to China from Canada", said Xu Mingqi, deputy director of the Institute of the World Economy at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Xu added that unlike other regions of Canada that have attracted foreign investors, Quebec features undeveloped rural areas with a variety of natural resources and clean renewable energy, with few overseas investors in these sectors so far.

As of 2011, China will become Quebec's second-largest trading partner after the United States, and this will remain the case for the foreseeable future with more than $9 billion in trade a year.

The region could also provide a steppingstone into the US market for Asian investors, especially from China, said Charest.

Quebec also provides a reliable, clean and renewable energy supply at a competitive cost, thanks to abundant hydropower resources.

With a total installed capacity of more than 40,000 megawatts, Quebec is the fourth-largest hydropower producer in the world.

Charest, who is leading 70 delegates from Quebec, is scheduled to sign a Quebec-China business partnership agreement covering healthcare and scientific cooperation with the local municipal trade department on Friday in Shanghai.


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