November 2011    Print this article

The Highway 167 extension: providing better access to mineral resources

Alain Mondy,
Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ)

Highway 167 North is the main road link between Lac-Saint-Jean and Chibougamau. The highway provides access to the community of Mistissini and continues on to the Lac Albanel sector.

The project to extend Highway 167 over a distance of roughly 240 km was announced in the 2009 Budget Speech as part of the Plan Nord. It will provide better access to mineral resources, improve ecotourism opportunities, and give Cree families a way to travel to their traplines.

The Monts Otish area has seen a lot of exploration investment in recent years, and many mining rights have been acquired. Although exploration is possible without road access, the situation becomes more complicated when a deposit is brought into production. Advanced projects, such as the Renard, Matoush and Lac McLeod projects, require road access. The construction of a highway to serve an area with strong mineral potential will act as an economic lever for sustainable development in the region, maximizing the benefits for neighbouring communities and for Québec as a whole.

Since the launch of several mining projects depends on road access, it is important for the highway to be built within a tight deadline.

The analysis of the environmental impact assessment by the federal and provincial authorities is under way, and public hearings have been held. Work can begin as soon as all the required authorizations have been obtained. Based on the hypothesis that the certificates of authorization will be issued in November 2011, construction work is scheduled to begin in December 2011, with the highway opening to traffic in November 2015.

Currently, the Ministère des Transports (MTQ) intends to implement the project in the form of four construction contracts (PDF Format, 1 Mb).

The project is making steady progress. The pooling of the information gathered by mining companies, the Parc Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish and the MTQ has provided a knowledge base for the physical and biological makeup of the sector.

In addition to the aspects that are important from a sustainable development perspective, the economic benefits and social impacts will be examined in detail by the community of Mistissini and Ville de Chibougamau.

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© Gouvernement du Québec, 2011