Canadian Asbestos Mine Exports to Developing Countries

Tractor at Canadian asbestos mine

Recently in Asbestos, Quebec, lawmakers approved a $57 million loan to underwrite the reactivation of the world’s most famous asbestos mine, the Jeffrey Mine.

The majority of the chrysotile asbestos produced at the Jeffrey Mine will be exclusively shipped to Third World countries to make asbestos cement.

For the past 100 years, the mines in the area have been a supplier of more than 90 percent of the commercial asbestos used throughout the world.

Groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have long documented that there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Chrysotile asbestos is widely accepted as a known human carcinogen by medical professionals around the globe. Asbestos exposure has been linked to the development of diseases such as malignant mesothelioma.

All of the asbestos that is produced by the mine would be exported to Asian countries. Half would be sent to India while the rest would go to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Engineers and geologists believe that the world’s largest untouched deposit of asbestos lies underneath the mine.

In India demonstrations against the use of Canadian asbestos continue. The local plants currently under construction will produce asbestos-cement pipe, roofing and siding for buildings.

Many town officials have pushed for the reactivation of the mine, saying it will create an additional 500 mining jobs. However, the 300,000-member Quebec Confederation of National Trade Unions conducted a vote last month that was overwhelmingly opposed to further work at the Jeffrey Mine.

A number of experts are shocked that Southeast Asian countries believe they can implement safe work policies that have been impossible to follow in Western countries. The consortium of Indian investors who will run the mine insist that chrysotile asbestos is not harmful. The WHO believes that the rampant use of asbestos will lead to 10 million deaths by 2030.


Joining the team in February 2008 as a writer and editor, Michelle Whitmer has translated medical jargon into patient-friendly information at Asbestos.com for more than eight years. Michelle is a registered yoga teacher, a member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, and was quoted by The New York Times on the risks of asbestos exposure. If you have a story idea for Michelle, please email her at michelle@asbestos.com.

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