April 17, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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A bulldozer named Northwold |  Montreal Journal

A bulldozer named Northwold | Montreal Journal

Irregularities are mounting in the Northwold file. Despite all the great talk from CAQ and the Swedish start-up, there's something fishy about it.

We only learned last week that the Richelieu River was at risk of contamination, and that the CEO (without being registered on the lobbyist register) met with Fitzgibbon before removing the project from BAPE. Officials helped Northwold executives get their permits.

Keep in mind that Northwold, which will benefit from $7 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies, posted a whopping loss of $1.4 billion in the first nine months of 2023. In addition, its first factory in Sweden suffered more than 12 production delays. months. It has received a total of 360 MW of power blocks during the energy shortage period and will get a 20% discount on prices. Because of the need to build new production to supply it, Northwold would generate losses of about a hundred million dollars a year. All electricity consumers will pay this disguised subsidy.

Work should be stopped immediately

With the complicity of the Legault government, Northwold is implementing a promising policy. Fewer than a hundred bulldozers are busy filling wetlands at the site of its future factory.

However the wetlands were protected from real estate developers by the same government last year due to their high ecological value. There is fiddling with environmental regulations to exclude Northvolt from a BAPE.

It's all happening as the caquists, realizing their days are numbered, rush to entertain their business friends before they leave.

The current rush is highly suspect. The CAQ government is practicing greenwashing under the pretext of ecological change. It is too important for this change to be carried out hastily and secretly. An immediate stoppage of work on the ground should be announced while the situation is clarified.

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Only a common BAPE from mine to battery will allow a thorough review of the project and an informed and shared decision. In addition to all the features already mentioned, it is important to set up the Northwold factory within the whole mining-battery sector.

Is it a real value-added sector? Who are the players? At what price should large blocks of electricity be sold in a shortage situation? Where are the technological developments in terms of materials?

We couldn't do without BAPE common to the entire industry. Resources are too valuable to waste on bad ideas.

We must not forget that electrification of transport is not a panacea. The priority model should be transit, so invest heavily in public transport.

Martin Olette, President of Climate Quebec, former Minister of Natural Resources