Asbestos: Canada, China, Australia

British Colombia Construction unions are putting pressure on the Quebec government to permanently close Jeffrey Asbestos Mine.

“The Jeffrey Mine is solely based on exporting deadly asbestos to vulnerable developing countries that have not yet banned asbestos.”
said Wayne Peppard, the executive director of the B.C./Yukon Territory Building Trades Council. Delegates at the recent 41st annual convention of the trades council unanimously backed a motion calling for the permanent closure of the 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 Quebec government plans to give a $58 million guarantee loan to support the expansion of the mine. The 250,000 tons of asbestos it produces will be exported to Asia for use in the construction industry.

News received by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) on November 3, 2010, confirmed rumors that a new industry standard had been adopted in China which prohibits the use of asbestos in siding and wall materials for construction. The prohibition is part of a Chinese national standard  which will be implemented as of June 1, 2011. IBAS reports that there can be no doubt that the new guidelines will impact on the profitability of China's asbestos-cement industry.

A scathing criticism of Government inaction over asbestos has been issued by the NSW Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is particularly critical of the mountain of asbestos tailings left behind at the abandoned Woodsreef Mine in northern NSW. Australia has the highest per capita incidence of asbestos disease in the world, according to Professor Nico Van Zandwijk at Sydney's Bernie Banton Centre - all deaths that are preventable.