12 July 2012

Muskrat Falls carts, horses, chickens and eggs #nlpoli

All the Twitter commentary on Thursday about Muskrat Falls and mining prompted your humble e-scribbler to go back and do some checking about who said what when.

Sure enough, the initial announcement did mention that any electricity from Muskrat Falls that wasn’t used in the province would go off to any place that Nalcor might sell it.  Still, it would be available to call back for “industrial development” in Labrador.

But that wasn’t really the focus of the discussion about Muskrat Falls.

Here’s what the backgrounder said:

However, the power and energy of generation at Muskrat Falls is initially greater than what is required for the domestic market and the related surplus presents an opportunity for Nalcor to export power.

The first throne speech after the initial Muskrat Falls announcement only mentioned mining in Labrador in connection to a new electricity rate for industrial users in Labrador:

In Western Labrador, a reliable supply of competitively-priced electricity has been of great value to IOCC and Wabush Mines, both of which have benefited from the TWINCO arrangement that expires in 2014. Cognizant of the growth of the mining industry in Labrador and the demands this will mean for electrical power, My Government will soon announce a new policy on industrial electricity rates in Labrador to ensure that all industrial consumers, existing and new, benefit from a supply of competitively-priced power.

The same speech tied Muskrat Falls to unspecified economic activity:

Indeed, the development of both Gull Island and Muskrat Falls will be a great enabler for future opportunities in Labrador and will greatly improve Labrador's ability to attract industrial development in the region.

The Conservative 2011 campaign platform ties Muskrat Falls to the replacement of the Holyrood generating station. Labrador would benefit generally:

Energy from the Churchill River system will fuel industrial expansion and employment growth throughout Labrador and the island.

You have to fast forward to 2012 to get a connection between Muskrat and mining from the people backing the project.

In itself, that shift is really interesting. 

It’s really interesting because not so very long ago,  industrial development was supposed to fuel development of the Lower Churchill, not the other way around.  From November 2008:

A well-known economist says there's a megaproject on the horizon for Labrador and he predicts that will help the province get financing for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject.

Memorial University economist Wade Locke wouldn't provide details about the potential project when he spoke to CBC News Friday at a meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council in St. John's, where predictions were made about the province's economic future.


Very interesting.