(Laval) Quebec can do without Chinese capital to develop its mining sector, believes the Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, who does not exclude that relations with China could relax one day.

“Today, in strategic metals streams, there is so much silver available in North America. I think we can work without the Chinese,” replied the minister on Friday, on the sidelines of an announcement on the electrification of transport in Laval.

In November, the federal government said that the acquisition of a company in a strategic Canadian mining sector by Chinese interests would only be authorized “on an exceptional basis”. The government had also asked three Chinese firms to hand over their assets for national security reasons.

The comments come at a time of strained diplomatic relations between China and Canada. Whether it’s the imprisonment of the two Michaels, the attempts at Chinese influence during the last federal election campaign, the origin of donations to the Trudeau Foundation or the discovery of an alleged Chinese spy at Hydro-Québec, the headlines evoke the tense diplomatic climate and its repercussions are multiplying.

In this context, the Quebec government, which grants mining rights on its territory, is not very favorable to Chinese investments in strategic metals. “Today, geopolitically, we don’t want it, and then financially, we don’t need it,” said Minister Fitzgibbon.

He nuances that this exclusion is not necessarily eternal, because “things can change”.

Chinese companies still hold mining claims. The purchase of these mining exploration titles was done before the cooling of Sino-Canadian relations, said the minister.

However, Quebec can still impose its conditions if steps were taken to launch a project. “If ever the mining project sees the light of day, because the resource is there and is of good quality, they have to come and see us. Today, someone comes to us, a Chinese for a claim that they have, probably we would say “no”. If we said “yes”, there were important conditions.

“I am comfortable that in the near future there will be no stakes, no Chinese detentions,” he adds.