McInnis cement plant to create jobs in Gaspé region, but Quebec's greenhouse gas emissions to rise by 6%

The McInnis cement plant in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Que., built at a cost of $1.45 billion, is supposed to producer a greener form of cement, using biomass instead of coal, but it will be the worst industrial polluter in the province.

$1.45B Port-Daniel-Gascons plant to produce greener cement but will be worst industrial polluter in Quebec

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, left, looks out over the $1.45-billion installation at the inauguration of the McInnis cement plant in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Que., on Sept. 25, 2017. (Radio-Canada)

The long-awaited McInnis cement plant in Port-Daniel–Gascons, Que., is expected to create 200 jobs in the Gaspé region — but it's also predicted to produce more greenhouse gas than any other industrial operation in the province.

Premier Philippe Couillard was among those on hand today for the plant's official inauguration.

Built at a cost of $1.45 billion, much of that taxpayers' money, the plant is meant to produce a "greener" cement, using biomass instead of coal.

However, the cement plant will produce 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, making it the largest single emitter in the province.

That will increase greenhouse gas emissions in the province by an estimated two per cent — and emissions in Quebec's industrial sector will rise by six per cent.

The project was not subject to environmental review board hearings because it was initially proposed before the hearings process, known as BAPE, existed.

In 2015, the Couillard government passed a law reaffirming that the Port-Daniel–Gascons project would not be required to undergo an  environmental review.
The McInnis cement plant is expected to employ 200 people. (Joane Bérubé/Radio-Canada)

22-year wait

In 1995, a geological study found a substantial limestone deposit in the Port-Daniel-Gascons area, spurring then-premier Jacques Parizeau to put $1 million toward a feasibility study.

After some early work, including the construction of a dock in 1998, the project stalled for more than a decade.

In January 2014, Premier Pauline Marois announced the government would proceed with the project in partnership with the Bombardier family, which had by then acquired the cement project.

The Quebec government initially provided a $250-million guaranteed loan, and Investissement Québec provided a $100-million investment.

The Caisse de Dépôt, the agency that manages Quebec's public pensions, also invested $100 million in the project.

The Beaudoin-Bombardier merger company, Beaudier, provided $750 million in private financing.

Couillard's Liberal government maintained the deal after it was elected later that year.

The projected cost at the time that the project was approved by Marois was $1 billion — but that budget was exceeded by about $450 million.

​The Caisse de Dépôt provided another $125 million, taking control of the project. A further $125 million in private financing was also invested.

The McInnis cement plant was inaugurated on Sept. 25, 22 years after former PQ premier Jacques Parizeau first announced a feasibility study (Radio-Canada)