QUEBEC ASBESTOS INDUSTRY
Canadian asbestos co. eyes Third World nations
as U.S. and European markets dry up
Quebec CEO invests his company's hopes for a future in asbestos industry exports to developing, unregulated nations.
Weitz & Luxenberg represents clients in the United States and Canada with lung cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases.Our lawyers have protected the legal rights of asbestos-injured workers since 1986. And in that time the firm's mesothelioma lawyers have won several billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients injured by occupational asbestos exposure.
December 29, 2009 - Four decades after Canada’s asbestos boom, it is hard to imagine a more dramatically changed business environment for selling asbestos, now recognized by more than 40 nations as a dangerous toxin to be avoided.
The Canadian and U.S markets have collapsed, and an asbestos ban across the European Union has been in place for more than a decade.
Though most nations have turned a cold shoulder to asbestos, some countries in the Third World still import it.
To replace lost markets, one man has turned his eyes to developing nations in an effort to help rescue Quebec’s Jeffrey asbestos mine. Bernard Coulombe, CEO of the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec, said he has big plans for exporting asbestos to Third World countries, where regulations governing worker health safety are lax or even nonexistent.
"If everything goes well – and everything has to go well – we will be working in the underground mine and starting to produce in 2010. I can tell you, not just the Indian customers, but the big users of the world – Mexico, Venezuela, Pakistan, Vietnam. They're waiting for us."
The surprise is that Coulombe believes the mine has a future, at all. "We have 200 million tonnes of proven ore reserves. It's good for the next 50 years," he said.
The next six months will be critical in determining whether Coulombe can execute his plan to kick-start a Canadian industry presumed to be at death's door.
“The marketplace is crying for chrysotile,” he says of his flourishing client base in India, Vietnam and Indonesia, where asbestos-cement sheets and roofing are seen by local advocates as a huge social benefit to the poor and needy. “I have a letter of interest from 15 of my biggest customers asking me for volume.”
It’s quite a stretch to consider asbestosis or mesothelioma to be a social benefit for the poor and needy. What advocates are slow to acknowledge is that thousands of people die from asbestos-related cancers every year; 3,000 annually in the United States alone.
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