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Asbestos News

Recently, a distinguished panel of the world's leading epidemiologists decided to release a position statement requesting an international ban on asbestos.
Jeffrey Mine will increase asbestos exposure but not necessarily profits
Now that Quebec has guaranteed $58 million in direct loans to reopen its Jeffrey Mine, the world's largest source of asbestos, policy experts across Canada and the U.S. are expressing their outrage.

Not only does the asbestos found in the Jeffrey cause mesothelioma and other lung diseases, but it may not even be terribly profitable, according to a report published in the Montreal Gazette.

All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic

Early last year, the New York Times noted that the mine's president, G. Bernard Coulombe, was seeking funds to reopen the Jeffrey, which was shuttered the year before due to public health concerns.

In an interview with the newspaper, Coulombe infamously denied that chrysotile asbestos - his mine's specialty - causes mesothelioma.

"The people against us in the medical community, they know nothing about chrysotile," he said, quoted by the Times. "We show our opponents all sorts of studies done over the last 25 years all around the world that demonstrate that there is no problem working with chrysotile. But they don't take that into account. They say 'It's a carcinogen, it's a carcinogen, it's a carcinogen.'"

Those "people in the medical community" include the world's leading oncologists and respirologists, both in Canada and abroad. For example, recently, the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, a distinguished panel of the world's leading experts on the subject, released a position statement requesting an international ban on asbestos, all forms of which are considered toxic.

The committee also asked that asbestos-exporting nations like Canada "provid[e] transition assistance to their asbestos-mining communities."

For its part, Quebec does not seem ready to do so.

In Canada, asbestos mining makes little economic sense

Montreal Gazette environmental reporter Michelle Lalonde recently wrote an article analyzing the reopening of the Jeffrey Mine. She determined that Quebec's $58 million direct loan is money poorly spent.

Lalonde noted that, in all likelihood, the mining company got a direct loan from the government, rather than a guarantee, because no bank on Earth would put up so much money to reopen a potentially unprofitable (and certainly dangerous) mine.

Why might the Jeffrey not make money? The Gazette reporter noted that asbestos is banned in 55 countries, and even the mine's main financial backer - Thai asbestos-tile manufacturer Ulan Marketing - operates in a nation that is considering banning the mineral.
8/2/12

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