Task force assessing maritime transport outlook in northern Quebec

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The recent significant expansion of mining and other projects in Quebec’s Cote-Nord region, has prompted the launching of a study on the feasibility of maritime transport of merchandise with the big existing and planned construction sites in the region. In short, a Task Force has been mandated to establish a business case combined with environmental benefits. The findings are slated to be publicly released in October of this year.
Over the past few years, there has been a veritable explosion of projects in the region’s iron ore mining sector (See separate report). And the construction which started in May 2009 of the giant, multi-billion dollar 1550 MW La Romaine hydroelectric complex north of Havre Saint-Pierre is expected to last until 2020.
The great bulk of supplies and equipment is being transported by road – rendering even more dangerous the already heavily-congested Highway 138 and generating substantial greenhouse gas emissions in a picturesque area of Quebec.
“It will be interesting to see whether the Quebec government will take concrete steps to decongest a highway loaded with semi-trailers by encouraging a modal transfer to improve the environment or just leave things to pure price competition,” remarked one marine industry source.
The St. Lawrence Shipoperators association is playing a leading role in piloting and providing input for the study being undertaken by CPCS Transcom, a management consulting firm specialized in strategic advisory services to the transportation sector. Hydro-Quebec and Transport Quebec are the other partners in the study being financed with a $100,000 budget.
The Task Force formed to monitor and guide the study is composed of representatives from Canada Steamship Lines, Transport Nanuk, Groupe Desgagnés. Ocean Group, McKeil Marine, CTMA and the Société des traversiers du Québec.
As part of its mandate to draw up a strategy for the establishment of maritime freight services to and from the Cote-Nord, the Task Force is to examine prospects in categories ranging from general cargo, containers, heavy lift and project cargo to liquid and dry bulk.
The terms of reference of the study are as follows: “Evaluate the level and conditions of feasibility and logistics and economic viability of maritime service able to assume part of the merchandise movements generated by the big construction sites of the Cote-Nord.”

American Journal of Transportation