In 1980, and still today, Quebec has a very diverse climate and many physiographic regions that provide it with many natural resources that are important for its economy. During the 20th century, Quebec’s economic development was partly due to the use of these natural resources.
Water is one of Quebec’s most important natural resources. The use of its many rivers to produce electricity helps to drive its economy. In 1980, Quebec had a network of hydroelectric dams that allowed it to be one of the largest power providers in North America. The Quebec government nationalized electricity in 1963. Twenty years later, Hydro-Québec operated nearly 50 dams including Manicouagan’s Great River and Churchill River. The first phase of the larger project of James Bay, completed in 1985, had taken 13 years to build!
Quebec’s forests are vast and rich. These forests also attracted many large companies which settled in Quebec’s resource regions, near the forests and power sources. Quebec’s main forest product was newsprint. In 1980, Canada was the largest producer of newsprint in the world, and nearly half of this production came from Quebec. Most of the paper was produced from spruce, found mainly in boreal and mixed forests.
The extraction of metals from Quebec soil, particularly in the Canadian Shield, was a very important industry. In 1980, mining of gold and copper in the Abitibi and those of iron in northern Quebec were still active. On the other hand, the mining of asbestos in Appalachia had slowed considerably when it was discovered that this ore presented health hazards.
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