Quebec will help uprooted citizens near the Horne smelter

Quebec will help uprooted citizens near the Horne smelter

 Quebec will help uprooted citizens near Horne smelter

Stéphane Blais The Canadian Press Glencore to demolish 82 buildings near Horne smelter, must decontaminate neighborhood soils and then greening the area so that it becomes a “buffer zone”.

The Government of Quebec and the City of Rouyn-Noranda promise to support citizens who will be relocated due to arsenic emissions from the Horne smelter in “each step” and that the operation will be done gradually.< /p>

Quebec will disburse $88.3 million to support the City, which must relocate nearly 200 families who live in the Notre-Dame sector.

“An operation of a few tens of millions of dollars”, estimated company representative Marie-Élise Viger.

The multinational will determine the price of the buildings, but the owners will be “accompanied” and “advised” by a committee made up of members of the Government of Quebec and the City of Rouyn-Noranda.

Glencore will demolish 82 buildings, decontaminate the soils of the neighborhood and then green the area to become a “buffer zone”.

Citizens “will be able to live in their homes until their new home is ready,” Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest said at a news conference.

In the National Assembly on Thursday morning, the Minister Delegate for the Economy, Christopher Skeete, indicated that “no one is going to be forced to leave their house if it is not their choice”.

Creation of new housing

The sum of $88.3 million to be disbursed by the Government of Quebec includes an amount of $58 million to create new housing in order to relocate citizens of the Notre-Dame sector. The City and the government do not know where these homes will be erected and this operation could take several years.

Asked why the government, and not Glencore, will pay for the creation of a new district, Minister Laforest replied that the government has a responsibility to ensure “the health and well-being of citizens”. /p>

The Minister explained that financial assistance will be available for tenants who find a home where the cost of rent is higher than what they are currently paying.

“A psychosocial support intervention team will be available at all times,” added the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

The government intends to meet “every citizen” affected by the relocation to find out their needs.

Authorities could, for example, “consider the mobility needs” of residents who do not have a vehicle, according to the information provided in the technical briefing.

 Quebec will help uprooted citizens near the Horne smelter

Photo: Stéphane Blais The Canadian Press Citizens demonstrated Thursday in Rouyn-Noranda against the relocation project for those residing near the Horne smelter.

Many low-income families live in the Notre-Dame district, and some of them could therefore obtain funding for their transportation needs if new homes are built far from the city center.

L he $88.3 million envelope also includes a series of measures which, according to the government, “will make it possible to deepen knowledge of the impacts of the various contaminants emitted by the Horne smelter, to stimulate local development, to increase the attractiveness of the region, as well as ensuring the smooth running of the actions that will be taken”.

A target of 15 ng/m3 of arsenic in 2027

The government also unveiled the Horne Smelter's new Ministerial Authorization on Thursday.

This requires the company to meet the target of 15 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) in Year 5 of authorization, therefore in 2027.

The Ministry of the Environment also imposes arsenic emission thresholds of 65 ng/m3 in the year 2023 and 45 ng/m3 for 2024 , 2025 and 2026.

The previous agreement, which was signed with the Liberal government in 2017, allowed arsenic emissions from the smelter to reach an annual average of 100 ng/m3, 33 times higher than the provincial standard of 3 ng/m3.

The government also requires the company to present an action plan by 2027, to eventually reach the standard of 3 ng/m3.

However, no timeline has been set to achieve this standard.

The new license also requires the smelter to reduce its releases of cadmium, copper, nickel and lead from 2027.

“I firmly believe that with the measures announced today , we are better protecting the health of the population of the Notre-Dame district and Rouyn-Noranda,” said Environment Minister Benoit Charette.

Claude Bélanger, Head of Copper Operations in North America North of Glencore, said the company is “committed to working with our stakeholders to achieve these ambitious new goals.”

The Horne Smelter is Canada's only copper smelter. Its leaders are expected to react to the new authorization late Thursday afternoon.

To go further

  • The Horne smelter emitted 24 times more arsenic in 2022 that the provincial standard
  • Glencore intends to comply with Quebec's requirements
  • Video | Rouyn-Noranda: the taste of mining
  • In numbers | Daily emissions of toxic metals regularly cross limits in Rouyn-Noranda