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Controversial Port-Daniel-Gascons cement plant project given the go ahead

World Cement,

Port-Daniel-Gascons cement plant secures loan from Québec government

Québec’s McInnis Cement has announced that the construction of its Port-Daniel-Gascons cement plant will begin this spring. The project has secured an interest-bearing loan worth $250 million from the Quebec government, which holds an additional $100 million stake in the firm through Investissement Québec. La Caisse de dépôt et placement de Québec will make a $100 million equity investment in the plant, alongside Beaudier. A group of banks, led by National Bank, will provide the rest of the funding for the project.

The cement plant will have a production capacity of 2.2 million t, which could be expanded to 2.5 million t. McInnis Cement has stated that it will export most of the cement produced at the plant to the US market. The strategic location of the plant, as well as its proximity to a marine terminal, will help the company to reach markets along the US East Coast and elsewhere in Canada.

McInnis Cement expects the construction phase of the plant, which is likely to last for two years, to generate some 2300 jobs.

“We have been working hard since December 2011 to complete all the steps required to ensure that this project goes ahead. The building of the Port-Daniel-Gascons cement plant represents one of the largest industrial projects in Quebec,” commented Christian Gagnon, President and CEO of McInnis Cement. “In addition to the completion of comprehensive updates to environmental studies, the financial structuring of this $1 billion project proved crucial to its realisation.”

“The international export activity remains the driving force of Québec economic growth. With its production targeting the US market, the McInnis Cement project is fully aligned with this vision. I am convinced that with the excellent management team recruited by Beaudier and the proximity of the US market, this project is a sound investment for La Caisse,” added Michael Sabia, President and Chief Executive Officer of La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Cement Association of Canada expresses dismay at the government’s decision

The announcement that the McInnis Cement plant will go ahead did not receive a warm welcome from Québec’s cement industry. The Cement Association of Canada (CAC) has expressed its disappointment at the government’s decision to provide financial assistance to the project, as well as the decision not to subject the plant to the usual full environmental assessment process (BAPE).

The CAC submitted an economic forecast of cement demand and production levels to the government, drawn up by two independent economists, which indicated that the region’s cement market would not have the capacity to absorb the additional 2.2 million tpa of cement produced by the new plant.

“Furthermore, as we have explained repeatedly to the government, Québec's cement producers are running at just 60% of their production capacity,” said Michael McSweeney, President and CEO of the Cement Association of Canada. “This new plant will displace existing economic opportunities from one part of Québec to another, without creating new ones. It will not generate new jobs and will do nothing to improve the province's overall economic prosperity.”

The strongly worded statement from the CAC went on to suggest that: ‘The government's position shows no respect for the businesses and the thousands of workers that are linked, directly or indirectly, to the Québec cement industry. These businesses and their employees have been participating in the province's economy for decades, paying their Québec taxes and complying with all the rules that have been imposed on them. In return, instead of allowing the free play of competition, the government is kneecapping the industry with a purely political decision.’

Edited from CAC and McInnis Cement press releases by

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