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Groups call for global asbestos ban

There was a call Tuesday for a global ban on the mining and use of all forms of asbestos.

It’s coming from a group of more than 150 international and Canadian organizations and individual scientists from 20 countries.

The argument in favour of an international ban comes after last month’s announcement by the Quebec government it would lend $58 million to help reopen the Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos.

The industry in Quebec appeared on the verge of collapse but the loan and private investment could keep production and exports going for another 20 years.

Asbestos opponents are urging major producers — Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan and Russia — to put an end to mining and exports and help communities make the transition to a different industry.

The groups say in a joint statement that countries should tell citizens about the health hazards of dealing with asbestos. Activists argue that asbestos is linked to cancer.

Industry proponents have insisted asbestos can be used safely if it is handled properly.

The last two remaining asbestos facilities in Canada — including Jeffrey Mine — are in Quebec. The other mine is also shuttered but proponents hope it will be re-opened.