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Waskaganish, Thursday, February 7, 2002 - On the occasion of the signing of the final agreement between Québec and the Cree Nation, the Prime Minister of Québec, Mr. Bernard Landry has announced the commencement of the construction project to build a 4 billion dollar hydro-electric complex within the James Bay Territory. The project will create 10,500 direct jobs over a period of nine years.

The signing of this agreement opens a new era of development and partnership for both Québec and the Crees, which will benefit all the citizens of Québec. In addition, the completion of the Eastmain 1 and Eastmain 1-A/Rupert diversion projects will increase Québec hydro production capacity by more than 1,200 MW. This represents a 15% increase over the current James Bay production capacity.

"In addition to providing 10,500 new jobs, the increase in Québec's energy production capacity will ensure that we are able to meet all the energy needs of consumers and business. It will also provide new business opportunities on the export market. In fact, these hydro-electric developments will stimulate the future economic development of Québec", stated the Prime Minister.

The agreement paves the way to two distinct projects. The first project, which has already been approved, will be the construction of Eastmain 1 power plant and its reservoir on Eastmain River, upstream from the Opinaca reservoir. Eastmain 1 will have a power capacity of 480 MW. Construction work is ready to begin this spring.

The second project, the Eastmain1-A/Rupert diversion project calls for partial diversion of the waters of Rupert River towards the Eastmain 1 reservoir and the existing power stations that are part of the La Grande complex. The total production capacity of the second project will be in the range of 770 MW. It will be subject to environmental studies, prior to receiving the required government authorizations.

The projects are expected to generate contracts worth 590 million dollars for which Cree businesses will be eligible. It has also been agreed that all work must comply with the price, quality, deadline and warranty objectives set by Hydro-Québec.

It has also been agreed that a $50 M reserve will be set aside for requisite remedial work linked to the environmental impact of the projects. Lastly both Hydro-Québec and the Crees have reached a new agreement on the effects of mercury on northern communities. The first agreement which expired in 1996 saw the completion of several studies. The new agreement stipulates that more than 2/3 of the $24 M that Hydro-Québec will pay will be invested so that the Crees can re-appropriate their fishing resources.

"The completion of these hydro-electric projects within the James Bay territory will be inscribed on a new page in the economic history of Québec. They give eloquent expression to the willingness and the desire of the Government of Québec to work for the betterment of every region of Québec", stated the Mr. Landry in conclusion.

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Hubert Bolduc
Attaché de presse
Cabinet du premier ministre
Tél. : (418) 643-5321

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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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