Quebec’s Daoust Sees C$1 Billion Mining Fund Buying Stakes Soon

Quebec’s new C$1 billion ($798 million) fund dedicated to buying equity stakes in mining and other natural resources projects is moving closer to its first investments, Economy Minister Jacques Daoust said.

Capital Mines Hydrocarbures, as the state-owned fund will be called, may invest as much as C$200 million in a number of mines, Daoust said Wednesday.

“I have many things in the pipeline,” Daoust told reporters in Montreal. He declined to give details, other than to say talks with “certain mines” are under way.

While Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced plans for the fund in June, Quebec’s legislature has yet to authorize its creation. Capital Mines Hydrocarbures should be able to support as many as 10 mining projects once it begins operating, Daoust said.

“The raison d’etre of that fund is to make sure that at the end of the day, if the funding is complicated for the last 10 or 20 percent of a project, we will be there,” the minister said. “We can go to C$200 million, but normally we should not invest more than 10 or 15 percent of a project.”

Priority will be given to projects outside of iron ore, Daoust said. Quebec is already one of Canada’s biggest iron-ore producers, accounting for about 40 percent of the country’s output, according to the province’s natural resources ministry.

“All minerals don’t follow the same cycle,” Daoust said. “If you want to eliminate the volatility associated with mining, you have to invest in projects that don’t follow the iron-ore cycle.”

Daoust spoke after Premier Philippe Couillard outlined a scaled-down version of the government’s 20-year strategy to develop resources in the northernmost regions of the province. The so-called Plan Nord may generate about C$50 billion in investments by 2035, according to Couillard.

Former Premier Jean Charest unveiled the plan in May 2011, promising C$80 billion of investments over 25 years in an area twice the size of France. That was before a global commodities slump depressed prices and curtailed investment.

Couillard’s C$50 billion estimate, made public today, includes about C$2 billion in spending on infrastructure such as roads and C$20 billion in new hydroelectric generation and transmission capacity at state-owned utility Hydro-Quebec. Companies are expected to contribute the remaining C$28 billion in capital spending.

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