Frequently asked questions

The Niobec Mine has been in operation in St-Honoré for over 35 years. It is one of only three niobium mines in the world. The Niobec Mine extracts niobium, which is then transformed on site into ferroniobium. This mineral is subsequently sold on international markets. The Mine now employs over 400 people and plans to implement an expansion project. Niobec has begun an information and consultation process. Please find below the answers to frequently asked questions:


What is niobium used for?

Niobium is a metal that, once transformed into ferroniobium, can increase iron’s resistance while making it lighter. It is vastly used for pipelines, the automobile industry, construction and other super alloys. It also provides a substantial gain on an economical as well as an environmental level. In more concrete terms, the use of nine dollars worth of niobium in an automobile reduces the vehicle’s weight by 100 kilograms and increases its energy savings by 5%.


Why are you undertaking an expansion project? 

Niobium is highly in demand on the international markets. So far, Niobec has supplied 15% of the worldwide demand for niobium and has seen its market share decrease to almost 8% during the last few years. The company must therefore remain competitive in this high-growth market. In order to ensure its continuity over the next 46 years and maintain its strategic position on the international market, the mine must triple its annual production. A $1.9-billion dollar investment in a new mining method is currently being studied.


Why did Niobec choose the block-caving method?

This method was chosen for economic, technical, environmental, social, as well as health and safety reasons that were taken into consideration during the prefeasibility study. In light of this analysis, it was decided that the block-caving method was the most appropriate. The bock-caving scenario will be further studied during the feasibility study currently underway, as well as during the social and environmental impact study. The results of the prefeasibility study have confirmed a potential annual production of 13,500 tons of niobium, which would allow us to triple the 2011 production level and therefore ensure the mine’s viability for the next 46 years.


Do you plan on building a new road in order to reduce the traffic in the St-Honoré village, on the Hôtel-de-ville Road and on the St-Marc Road?

Niobec is committed to build a road in order to limit the impact of nuisances related to the expansion, such as noise or dust, for the residents of St-Honoré. Many plans have already been considered and will be submitted for public consultation, which will take place during the following months.


Will there be concrete economic benefits generated from this expansion project? 

Yes. The Niobec mine expansion project should create over 200 jobs before 2016 and will support the numerous regional corporations during its various day-to-day activities. Niobec will particularly focus on maximizing benefits on a regional scale. With over 600 employees, Niobec will become a substantial economic player in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area.


How does Niobec take the environment into consideration? 

In addition to being ISO 14 001-certified and to complying with all environmental standards set by various levels of government, Niobec is constantly striving to reduce its carbon footprint. To do so, the corporation developed several partnerships, namely with the Chaire en éco-conseil de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi’s advisory chair on environmental issues), the ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (MRNF) (the Quebec ministry of natural resources), and the Comité Zip Saguenay. Whether it’s for biodiversity projects, research on the accelerated revegetation of mine tailings sites or the implementation of a conservation plan, the mine deploys all necessary measures to reduce its impact on the environment.


Are there currently any employment opportunities at Niobec?

Niobec is currently undertaking a significant expansion project that will increase its needs in terms of workforce. We plan on creating some 200 jobs before 2016, thus reaching a total of 600 employees. To learn more about employment opportunities at Niobec, please follow this link.


Do you offer guided tours of the mine to the public?

It is impossible for the mine to offer guided tours of its site due to very strict health and safety codes that it must observe. However, Niobec does open occasionally its doors to the media and economic players so as to increase awareness of this still unknown sector and to demonstrate the potential of the expansion project.


What are your requirements regarding donations and sponsorships?

The mine aims to contribute to its surrounding communities and to support them by developing long-lasting partnerships while upholding its values that foster health, safety, durability and innovation. Therefore, the mine has established a donation and sponsorship policy to support various local and regional events. To learn more about the selection criterion, please follow this link.


Did you take into consideration the neighbors’ concerns regarding your projects?

Niobec is a responsible mining corporation that is committed to its stakeholders. In order to respond to the community’s various inquiries, Niobec set up during the summer of 2011 a community relations office at the heart of St-Honoré. Anyone who wishes to get more information regarding the expansion project or to share their concerns can meet with a member of the Community Relations Team. Each concern is taken into consideration during the various studies. Niobec has also assembled a group of various stakeholders from the community to form the Local Affairs Committee. This committee is currently working on an action plan that will address the concerns that were expressed. To learn more about our information and consultation process, please follow this link.

Le Guide et bonnes pratiques pour un processus harmonieux d’acquisition et d’indemnisation est la propriété intellectuelle du Comité du milieu. Les demandes de reproduction ou de traduction doivent être adressées au bureau de relations avec la communauté de Niobec.