Asbestos mine gets $3.5M from Que. government

The Quebec government will guarantee a $3.5-million line of credit for one of the province's last asbestos mines.

Canadian Cancer Society calls decision 'deplorable'

The Quebec government will guarantee a $3.5-million line of credit for one of the country's last asbestos mines.

The money will allow the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que., to reopen and resume exports of asbestos — also called chrysotile — for the next month.

During that time Bernard Coulombe, the owner and president of Jeffrey Mine, hopes to attract private investors in order to secure a $58-million loan from the provincial government.

The mine's supporters say the $58 million will create 400 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs, and allow the mine to remain open for another 25 years.

Coulombe said the production and use of chrysotile are safe, and the mine needs to meet an international demand for the mineral.

"If we operate now, we have a better chance to be able to attract partners," Coulombe said.

The Canadian Cancer Society, as well as doctors across Quebec and Canada, have lobbied the Quebec government to not support the production of asbestos by lending money to the mine.

"It accounts for about 90,000 deaths each year," said André Beaulieu, spokesperson for Quebec's branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.

"The government ... should provide a transition support to affected communities and find new economies and new businesses locally," Beaulieu said.

Beaulieu is also calling for a global ban on the production of asbestos in all its forms.

More than 50 countries have banned the production and use of asbestos in all its forms, but Canada continues to permit the mining of chrysotile fibres, mainly for export.

The Jeffrey Mine has until the end of December to pay back the loan.