MAC: Mines and Communities

Asian anti-asbestos delegation headed to Quebec

Published by MAC on 2010-12-13
Source: CNW Telbec, Canadian Press, Montreal Gazette (2010-12-07)

Last week, members the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV - http://www.anroav.org), along with the Asia Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN - http://www.gban.net) arrived in Canada.

They were joining Canadian citizens in protesting at the re-opening of the Jeffrey Asbestos Mines (located in the eponymous town), and for the Canadian government to halt export of asbestos to other countries.

To support this protest, you can sign on at: http://www.petitiononline.com/a5b35t0s/petition.html

Asian anti-asbestos delegation headed to Quebec

The Canadian Press

28 November 2010

MONTREAL - A group of activists from Asia will descend on Quebec next month to warn the government about the health hazards of asbestos.

The delegation, which includes asbestos victims and union representatives, has sent a letter to Premier Jean Charest urging him not to provide financing for the Jeffrey mine in the town of Asbestos.

Government financing would allow the mine to expand underground operations, extending its life for another 25 years and saving hundreds of jobs.

A consortium has offered to purchase the mine outright, but to get the project started it's asking for a $58-million loan guarantee from the province.

The activists say Quebec's Liberal government is glossing over scientific evidence that shows chrysotile asbestos is dangerous.

They've requested a sit-down meeting with Charest in early December.


British Columbia unions want Quebec asbestos mine shut down

By Richard Gilbert

Journal of Commerce

17 November 2010

B.C. Construction unions are putting pressure on the Quebec government to permanently close Jeffrey Asbestos Mine, in order to put an end to the mining and export of deadly asbestos products.

"The horrible results of asbestos-related cancers now happening to B.C. construction workers should never be allowed anywhere in the world," said Wayne Peppard, the executive director of the B.C./Yukon Territory Building Trades Council (BCYTBTC).

"The Jeffrey Mine is solely based on exporting deadly asbestos to vulnerable developing countries that have not yet banned asbestos."

Delegates at the recent 41st annual convention of the trades council unanimously backed a motion calling for the permanent closure of the mine.

The council represents more than 35,000 construction workers, who understand the risks involved when working with asbestos.

"I urge you to re-consider the commitment of the Quebec government to back the asbestos industry," said Peppard in a letter Premier Jean Charest.

"I urge you to sit down with the federal government to stop funding the Asbestos/Chrysotile industry and to instead use this money to assist with employment transition programs that provide for the workers who will be displaced by closing down the Jeffrey Mine.

Earlier this month, a Canadian-led consortium of international investors made a successful offer to buy 100 per cent of Mine Jeffrey Inc.

The deal will finance the completion of an underground shaft and get the mine back into full-time production.

Due to a dwindling supply of fiber ore, the mine could not continue to operate as an open pit.

The consortium plans to produce about 225,000 tonnes of chrysotile fibre annually and create 500 jobs in Quebec for the next 25 years.

Charest is also considering the expansion of asbestos mining and exports at the Jeffrey Mine, by guaranteeing a $58 million loan to the facility.

Most of the fiber from the mine will be exported to developing countries in Asia, where it is used to reinforce and extend the life of construction concrete, piping and road asphalt.

Customers for asbestos products, such as India, have poor health and safety practices, which expose workers to the toxic asbestos fibres.

For this reason, Canadian exports of asbestos are under attack by a worldwide movement to ban the product.

In B.C., asbestos-related cancer deaths continue to grow among retired construction workers.

The B.C. Building Trades Council predicted that about 300 construction workers will die of mesothelioma and other asbestos exposure illnesses between 2008 and 2012.

The prediction was based on research by Professor Paul Demers at the University of B.C.'s school of environmental health, as well as statistics from WorkSafeBC.

The Canadian Cancer Society has also written a letter to Charest to ask him not to support the $58-million bank loan that would extend the life of the Quebec asbestos mine.

The World Health Organization, the Canadian Medical Association and the Association medicale du Quebec have taken official stands against the continued use of chrysotile asbestos because the fibres cause deadly diseases when inhaled.

Quebec exports most of its asbestos to developing countries where its handling is poorly regulated.

The cancer society is asking the federal government to eliminate asbestos exposure in Canada by phasing out the industry.

It has also asked for the creation of a national registry of buildings that still contain the substance.


Investing in Quebec asbestos

By Michelle Lalonde

Montreal Gazette

26 November 2010

A Westmount-based businessman who wants to help finance the expansion of the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos says the international outcry against the project does not bother him.

"I am going into this with an absolutely clear conscience," Baljit Chadha, president of Balcorp Ltd., told The Gazette on Thursday.

For the past 15 years, Chadha has been an asbestos middleman, buying chrysotile asbestos from the Jeffrey Mine and selling it to about a dozen large cement manufacturers in India. Balcorp Ltd. is an international trade and marketing firm with offices in Westmount, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Now that the open-pit mine in Asbestos is nearly exhausted, Chadha is part of an international consortium ready to invest in an expanded underground operation. The underground mine could produce enough to keep Quebec and Canada in the controversial asbestos export business for at least two decades.

But to get the project started, the Quebec government would have to agree to guarantee a $58-million bank loan, something the province's public health community, and activists around the world, have been begging Premier Jean Charest not to do.

On Dec. 6, a delegation of anti-asbestos activists representing workers and asbestos victims in India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, is to arrive in Montreal. The group has requested a personal meeting with Charest.

"We believe this is an urgent matter and that you have a responsibility to hear us, as the people in our countries are the ones who will pay the price for this decision," Sugio Furuya, coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, wrote in a letter sent to the premier on Tuesday.

But Chadha said the anti-asbestos activists are complaining about small, unregulated "mom and pop" plants in the developing world, where television crews have documented horrific working conditions and non-existent safety standards.

Chadha said he or his colleagues have visited each of the manufacturing plants to which his company sells Quebec asbestos. All of them handle it safely, he said.

"If I was guilty and didn't have a clean conscience because I was selling it to people who were using it wrongly, then yes, (the criticism) would bother me, but that is not the case." .

Chadha said asbestos-reinforced cement is in great demand in India, and he is proud to supply the fibres.

He conceded that chrysotile fibres can cause deadly diseases if inhaled, but he stressed the fibres are handled safely at the plant, and then enclosed in cement.

"It is the cheapest material for a roof that a poor man can have. It provides insulation from the extreme heat and it does not go ‘tick, tick, tick' during the monsoon rains, like a steel roof does," he said.

But critics say manufacturers in India and other developing countries cannot control what happens to asbestos-reinforced cement sheets or pipes when they leave the plant. The fibres are released into the air when the cement is cut or sawed, and construction or renovation workers in these countries are dying of asbestos-related diseases.

Studies have repeatedly shown that asbestos, once it leaves the mine, is not handled safely in Quebec, so there is skepticism about whether companies and governments in the developing world have the resources to properly monitor its use.


Human life is more important than asbestos industry profits, says Solidarity Delegation from Asia to Quebec

CNW Telbec

7 December 2010

MONTREAL - A delegation from Asia, including activists, a trade unionist and victims of asbestos arrived in Québec to make a desperate attempt to stop the Quebec government from financing a new asbestos mine (the Jeffrey mine), that would export millions of tonnes of asbestos to Asia, most of it to India.

"We have come to Québec to make a direct, personal appeal to the Québec people," said Sugio Furuya, leader of the Solidarity Delegation from Asia to Québec. "We decided we must do everything we could to try to stop a terrible wrong: the financing by the Québec government of the the Jeffrey mine."

The seven members of the Solidarity Delegation from Asia to Québec come from Japan, Indonesia, Korea and India.

"Please listen to us," said Anup Srivastava, of the Building and Woodworkers International, which represents 13 million workers around the world. "I am here to tell you face to face that the reassurances given to you by the asbestos industry are completely false. They claim that the same strict controls exist in the developing world as in Quebec. This is absurd. All over Asia, you will see workers cutting asbestos-cement roofing with abrasive saws and no protection from the deadly fibres being released. This is totally illegal in Québec. It is common in Asia."

"In Québec, it is illegal for people to be exposed to damaged pieces of asbestos. In Asia, this is common," said Muchamad Darisman. Broken pieces of asbestos-cement are re-used for homes and children play amongst asbestos-cement rubble. Many people have never even heard of asbestos, but that doesn't stop it from killing them."

"The World Health Organization says that the only way to prevent asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of any kind of asbestos," said Kazumi Yoshizaki., who lost her father to pleural mesothelioma in 2005. "Human life is more important than asbestos industry profits. Please listen to the World Health Organization. Please stop exporting asbestos."

"People have the right to live in safe conditions," said Rachel Lee. Lee, who is 45 years old, was not exposed to asbestos at work, but lived for two years near a chrysotile asbestos-cement factory in Korea from 1991 to1992. She has mesothelioma. "Asbestos has caused me, my husband and my two children great suffering. Asbestos has destroyed my life," says Lee. "I want there to be no more asbestos victims."

"Québec's medical associations have with one voice told the government not to finance the Jeffrey mine and to stop exporting asbestos," said Yeyong Choi. "The government has a moral obligation to put the advice of its medical experts ahead of the lobbying of the asbestos industry."

"The Québec government is not only exporting asbestos. It is also funding gross misinformation, claiming that asbestos can be safely used," said Omana George. " Québec is, in fact, a key propagandist for the global asbestos trade. This has to stop."

"We appeal to the Québec people. You protect your families from asbestos by refusing to put asbestos in your homes and schools. It is unjust to export to vulnerable people in the third world, a deadly product you refuse to use yourselves," she continued.

"Please do not finance the deadly asbestos trade," urged Furuya. "Invest the $58 million in sustainable, healthy jobs for the people of Asbestos. Around the world, people are watching to see what Québec will do. We say to you: Do not bring dishonour on Québec. Do not finance the Jeffrey mine."

For further information:
Omana George,
Anup Srivastava,
Kathleen Ruff, (514) 571-2696


Chrysotile can be used safely, for the miners as well as for the end-users

CNW Telbec

7 December 2010

Montreal - Despite what the groups dedicated to the purpose of shutting down altogether the chrysotile production industry in Quebec are saying, chrysotile can be mined and incorporated in products in an entirely safe manner.

Apart from legacy cases, Chrysotile does not create health problems any longer in Canada, even if it is still present in thousands of buildings and homes everywhere, because we have learned how to handle it safely. The miners who want to go back into the Jeffrey mine know this very well. This is why they, their families and neighbours, their union and many other important organizations, want this project to come through. The same safe use of chrysotile can be achieved anywhere in the world through the implementation of responsible use practices and consumer education.

Under the leadership of Balcorp Limited, an international trade and marketing firm led by Baljit S. Chadha, established in Montreal since 1976 and conducting business in India and many eastern countries, a consortium of International investors are planning to buy the Jeffrey mine, located in Asbestos, Quebec, and to convert it from an open pit to an underground mining operation. Production will be expanded from 15,000 to 180,000 tonnes in 2012, and eventually to 225,000 tonnes. This 80 M $ investment project will create 500 jobs. It has been wholeheartedly supported by the workers and their union, and the local population.

Balcorp has been exporting Chrysotile for over 15 years and has always acted in a socially responsible manner, selling only to recognized industrialists and manufacturers who have responsible use practices in place. The consortium strongly commits to be a trend-setter and a torch-bearer for safe and responsible usage of Chrysotile, both with industry and the end-users of the products. Specifically, it commits to the following:

For further information:
Guy Versailles, ARP
Spokesperson for the international consortium that wants to reopen
the Jeffrey mine
(514) 386 9774


One asbestos mine revived in Udaipur

Anindo Dey

TNN

13 December 2010

Jaipur: Even after a nationwide ban on the mining of asbestos,one such mine has been allegedly revived and is flourishing at the Netaji Ka Bara in Udaipur district.

After complaints from the Rajasthan State Mines Labour Union (RSMLU), the Mines Labour Protection Campaign (MLPC) has called up various officials of the mines department but are still awaiting action.

According to Rooplal Vadera,a villager who used to work in the mines before it was officially closed,I know the mine. It is an asbestos mine. I used to work in it, along with other villagers from my area, like Lalu Ram, Ram Lal as this was our only means of livelihood. It had been closed. But since the past three months work has resumed, he said.

Mining is being done here in the morning while the ore is transported at night. It is supplied to some factory in Udaipur, he added. Mining of asbestos has been banned in the country due to its harmful effects on the human body. Asbestos dusts get into the lungs of workers and cause the deadly asbestosis disease that ultimately leads to death. Shocked by the developments the MLPC got into the act.

We are concerned because of the harmful effects that the mines may cause to people working in it. On one hand the state government is not taking any initiative in healing workers afflicted with asbestosis while on the other no measure is being taken by it to close illegal mines, said Rana Sengupta, managing trustee of the MLPC.

Sengupta confirmed that asbestos is being mined here. This mine were once legal but cannot be legal anymore as mining of asbestos has been banned. Why we are concerned is because these mines will once again give birth to a set of workers who will be afflicted with the disease. This at a time when there is no initiative to treat those who are already a victim of it, Sengupta said.

The MLPC intervened into the matter as its representatives had been to Jhadole in Udaipur for showing solidarity with mines workers who were on a dharna and were demanding that their medical test reports done by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) be made public.

When contacted M L Bhati, senior mining engineer, vigilance, confirmed that he had been intimated by the MLPC. I was called and told about it.I have asked for records pertaining to the same. If they really amount to something we will get it checked and take action suitably. However, Bhati failed to say as to why no action was initiated immediately.


 

Help ban Canadian asbestos

The David Suzuki Foundation, one of Canada's leading environmental groups, has launched a campaign to get 3,000 emails sent to Prime Minister Harper and Premier Charest to stop the financing of the Jeffrey mine.

English http://action.davidsuzuki.org/asbestos

French: http://action.davidsuzuki.org/fr/asbestos

The Canadian chrysotile asbestos industry works hard to promote chrysotile as a safer asbestos, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization remind us that all types of asbestos are cancer-causing and harmful when inhaled. At present, the owner of Jeffrey Mine, one of two remaining chrysotile mining operations in Canada, is asking the Quebec Government for a loan guarantee of $58 million to allow the company to extract 200,000 tonnes of asbestos a year.

Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest to stop propping up the asbestos industry. Your letters can help prevent cancer and other asbestos-related disease.

Please note that people overseas can send the email. If you are outside Canada, then when you send the email, use the David Suzuki Foundation's province & postal code.
For province, put Ontario. For postal code, put K1P 5H3.

Please note also that you have to answer a simple math question at the end in order to prevent spam.

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