Stikeman Elliott

Plan Nord: A Project for the Development of Quebec's North

About Plan Nord

Launched on May 9, 2011, by Québec Premier Jean Charest and key members of his cabinet, Plan Nord is a 25-year, C$80B economic, social and environmental development project for the 1.2 million square-kilometer territory north of the 49th parallel that comprises roughly 72% of Québec's geographical area.

Plan Nord is intended to define the future of Quebec's North, conceived as a unique model of sustainable development in the mineral resources, forestry, energy, bio-food production and tourism sectors, balancing social and economic development and environmental protection. The project will be structured to reflect a representative approach using a new model of partnership between the government, the private sector, and Aboriginal and local communities.

Of the total private and public investment envisaged by Plan Nord, C$47B is to be directed to the development of renewable energy and C$33B to the development of the mining sector and public infrastructure, such as roads and airports. Investissement Québec will manage a C$500M allocation over the first five years to cover equity participation in Plan Nord projects. Plan Nord anticipates that it will be possible to leverage a number of advantages of the investment environment in Quebec to promote private sector investment in the North. It is anticipated that Plan Nord will generate or maintain an average of 20,000 jobs a year over its 25-year span.

The territory covered by Plan Nord has one of the world's largest fresh water reserves and accounts for over three quarters of Quebec's installed hydroelectric power generation capacity, as well as approximately the same potential of untapped water, wind and solar energy resources. It contains over 200,000 square kilometers of commercial forests, representing more than 50% of Quebec's usable forests, as well as an array of mineral ore deposits, including nickel, cobalt, platinum group metals, zinc, iron ore and ilmenite as well as a significant gold production component and deposits of lithium, vanadium and rare earth metals increasingly used in the energy, transportation and high tech sectors.

To ensure that the objectives of Plan Nord are fulfilled, the government is to establish the Société du Plan Nord (Plan Nord Corporation) as the coordinating body for all development projects under the Plan pursuant to an initial five-year plan for which a new funding vehicle will be created, called the Fonds du Plan Nord (Plan Nord Fund). The Fonds Plan Nord will be a special purpose fund into which tax spinoff from new mining projects, new Hydro Québec projects and new infrastructure projects will be paid along with a further contribution by Hydro Québec of C$10M a year to fund social projects. Plan Nord funding will directly link economic activity triggered by Plan Nord with resources invested to develop infrastructure and enhance social services for inhabitants of Plan Nord territory. In particular, the Société du Plan Nord will be responsible for implementing the integrated development of a comprehensive array of different modes of transportation (including new roads and the extension of existing highways) and modern means of telecommunication (including high-speed Internet and cellular telephone resources). Public investments will be prioritized to develop a transportation and communications network that will support Plan Nord's economic development projects.

Plan Nord will take full account of the protection of the environment and northern ecosystems, with rigorous environmental analyses applying principles of sustainable development. In particular the government has committed to set aside 50% of Plan Nord territory for purposes other than industrial ones, for environmental protection and for safeguarding biodiversity, and to set up a network of protected areas equivalent to 12% of the total area.

About our Plan Nord Team

Our Plan Nord team's capability draws on the skills of our mining, tax, investment funds, infrastructure, environment and energy groups, as well as experience acting on behalf of First Nations communities.

Our expertise extends to virtually every area of Canadian business law, particularly corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, mining, infrastructure, energy, banking, taxation, technology, real estate and forestry law as well as regulatory and government relations practices - notably in international trade and foreign investment. The firm frequently represents Canadian companies seeking to invest worldwide and international investors looking to invest in Canadian assets.

The depth of Stikeman Elliott's business and legal expertise, combined with our wide-ranging experience in various projects in every corner of the world, has allowed us to become one of the Canadian leaders in business law - worldwide.

Representative Experience

The following are selected highlights of our recent work. We have acted for:

  • Oman Oil Company S.A.O.C. ("OOC") in its first venture in Canada through an investment in BlackRock Metals Inc., a Quebec-based mining company developing an iron ore and titanium project as part of Québec's Plan Nord.

  • Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec, as a joint venture partner in ACH Limited Partnership, in the $297.5M acquisition by ACH of eight hydroelectric generation facilities from Abitibi-Consolidated.

  • Marubeni Metals & Minerals (Canada) Inc. in connection with its investment in Aluminerie Alouette in Sept-Iles, Quebec.

  • Elecnor, S.A. in connection with the development of its 100-MW wind power farm in Quebec.

  • A large Japanese trading house in connection with its 150-MW Quebec wind power project.

  • A consortium of foreign banks in the review of environmental and regulatory aspects of mining operations and mine closure and remediation plans. Work included a legal analysis of the obligations for the promoter to proceed with an environmental assessment and public hearing of its project under the James Bay Convention.

  • Tata Steel in its agreement with New Millennium Capital to fund potential iron ore mining developments in Quebec and Labrador, with a potential value of approximately $4.9B.

  • Tata Steel Global Holding Pte. in its $300M acquisition of an 80% stake in a direct shipping ore project located in Canada owned by New Millennium Capital Corp.

  • Tata Steel in its acquisition of an interest in New Millennium Capital Corp., which included:

    • Revision and negotiation of EPCM (Engineering, Procurement and Construction Project Management) contracts;

    • Revision of lease for offices located in Montréal;

    • Revision and negotiation of an Impact and Benefits Agreement (IBA) with the Uashaunnuat and Innu duashat Mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM) communities;

    • Revision and negotiation of an Impact and Benefits Agreement (IBA) with the Innu Nation of Labrador;

    • Various consultations regarding railroad lines between the mine and Sept-Îles;

    • Various consultations regarding the draft proposed contract with the general contractor.

Related Practices

Key Contacts

Franco Gadoury
Erik Richer La Flèche
David Massé
Maxime Turcotte