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December 13, 2000
(Mines and Energy)

The following statement was issued today by Paul Dicks, Minister of Mines and Energy. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

I wish to advise the House of Assembly that government has approved an initiative to actively promote the establishment of a silicon smelter in Labrador.

Labrador West has an extensive amount of high quality silica deposits and hydro-electric power which are the two essential ingredients for the commercial development of a silicon smelter. Once processed, silicon is used in many things including ceramics, tires and computer chips.

Silica, commonly known as quartzite, is a very common natural mineral, however it is unusual to find it in large pure concentrations such as that found in western Labrador. Quartzite is prominent in the Labrador City and Wabush area where it forms notable ridges. The quartzite is of a high quality with potential resources in the tens of millions of tonnes.

Labrador West is an ideal location for the establishment of a silicon smelter. In addition to the rich resource base and inexpensive power, the region has the necessary industrial infrastructure in place.

As well, Labrador West offers a favourable business climate and an inviting lifestyle. All of these factors make this region of our province an attractive place for such an enterprise.

Government will be launching a promotional drive at this time because of the expected global need for silicon smelting capacity by 2005. Should our promotional efforts pay off, a silicon smelter could create up to 130 jobs and could serve to encourage further investment in this mineral rich area of the province.

Our consultant has advised us that there will be a need for at least one silicon smelter by 2004. The most likely scenario is that there will be a requirement for four or five smelters by the year 2010. Western world consumption of silicon metal has expanded at a rate of 2.6 per cent per year. Markets are indeed promising for silicon.

The Department of Mines and Energy will be making an all out attempt to promote Labrador West in national and international markets.

This promotion campaign will see the distribution of a comprehensive advertising brochure. As well, site visits will be arranged for all major companies involved in the development and production of silicon.

Government is fully committed to the creation of development opportunities for Labrador.

Newfoundland and Labrador offers an investor friendly climate. This campaign is part of government�s overall plan to promote the province as a good place to live, work and raise a family. I have every confidence that our campaign will be successful.

2000 12 13 2:40 p.m.

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