By IAN AUSTEN
Quebec province, anticipating continued strong growth for its natural resources, has rolled out an ambitious 25-year plan to develop its vast but sparsely settled northern and Arctic regions.
The region is well endowed with mineral resources, woodlands and potential hydroelectric developments, but it currently lacks the roads, railways and other infrastructure necessary for their exploitation.
The plan, announced Monday, initially commits the province to spending 2.1 billion Canadian dollars ($2.2 billion). It also calls for a variety of measures, including the establishment of an investment fund, which Quebec hopes will initially lead to the development of at least 11 mines and ultimately produce overall investment totaling 80 billion Canadian dollars.
While the proposed project, known as Plan Nord, includes banning any industrial development in a large portion of the region, the program has the potential to put the province at odds with environmentalists. Similarly, while consultations are already under way between the province and the area’s large native Canadian population, the development of their traditional lands may pose potential political difficulties.