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一个加拿大资源型小城的转型故事

更新时间:2018-6-18 10:30:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The town fighting its killer reputation
一个加拿大资源型小城的转型故事

Nestled amid the rolling green countryside of south-eastern Quebec is a place that has been described as the most dangerous town in Canada.

在魁北克东南部延绵起伏的绿色乡野间,坐落着加拿大所谓的至危之城。

This quiet settlement, just east of a kink in the Nicolet River, thrived on a valuable mineral hidden in the rocks beneath it for more than 110 years. Mining was so important to the local economy that the town adopted its name – welcome to Asbestos.

这个安静的居民点,在尼科莱河(Nicolet River)一个大拐湾的东岸,靠着一种藏在岩石下的珍贵矿产,维持了110多年的繁荣。矿业对当地经济举足轻重,所以这个镇子就以这种矿物命名——欢迎来到石棉镇(Asbestos)。

Home to the world’s largest asbestos mine until 2012, the town was changed forever when the poisonous nature of the mineral that gave it its name and identity forced the mine to close for good.

直到2012年,这里一直是世界上最大的石棉矿所在地,当这种给它带来名字与身份的矿产,因其毒性而导致矿场永久关闭后,这个小镇也永远地改变了。

The closure of the Jeffrey mine signalled the end of an industry that had provided steady, dependable employment for generations, but had also taken its toll on the health and wellbeing of the local population.

杰弗里石棉矿(Jeffrey mine)的关闭,标志着一个行业的终结,它曾经为数代人提供了稳定、可靠的工作,但也给当地居民的健康和福祉造成了损害。

The mine also left another legacy almost as contentious as the mineral it extracted – the name of the town itself. Local businesses, for example, encountered difficulties trying to cross the nearby US border with products or vehicles bearing the word “asbestos”

该矿还留下了另一份遗产,它几乎与其所开采的矿物一样富有争议——这座小镇的名字。比如,当地的企业在试图穿过附近的美国边境时,写有"asbestos"字样的产品或者交通工具会遇到麻烦。

Yet in 2006, the town’s municipal council voted unanimously to hang on to the name and it has since stuck by the decision.

然而在2006年,该镇的市政局一致投票决定保留这个名称,之后也一直不曾动摇。

For a place that owes its existence to a now increasingly banned substance – progressing out of the shadow of the mine has involved imagination and risk-taking. But Asbestos may finally be shrugging off its toxic past.

对于一个其存在要归功于一种现已开始被禁制的有害物质的小城来说,走出石棉矿的阴影需要想像力和冒险。但石棉镇或许终将摆脱它的有毒过往。

Magic mineral

神奇的矿产

Asbestos is the name given to a naturally occurring set of six silicate-based minerals that form long, fibrous crystals. It has been mined around the world since ancient times for its tough, fire-resistant properties.

石棉是六种硅酸盐类天然矿物质所形成的长纤维状晶体。因其坚固、耐火的特性,自古以来,石棉在世界各地都有开采。

During the nineteenth century, settlers discovered that south-eastern Quebec contained several substantial asbestos deposits. Lying close to the US/Canada border, these deposits were big enough to justify large-scale mining.

19世纪,定居者在魁北克东南部发现了几处丰富的石棉矿藏。这里靠近美加边境,储量之丰富适合大规模开采。

The largest of these mining operations were at the town of Asbestos and nearby Thetford Mines. The Jeffrey mine in Asbestos provided half of the world’s supply of asbestos at one point, and helped make Canada the world’s largest asbestos exporter by the 1970s – with the industry delivering shipments valued at over $230 million CAD in 1973 ($1.35bn CAD when adjusted for inflation in 2018 or US $1.04bn).

其中最大规模的开采就在石棉镇,以及临近的塞特福特石棉矿(Thetford Mines)。石棉镇的杰弗里矿曾经一度占据全球石棉供应量的半壁江山,使得加拿大在上世纪70年代成为世界上最大的石棉出口国,1973年,该行业交付的产品价值超过了2.3亿加元(考虑通胀因素,相当于2018年的13.5亿加元或10.4亿美元。)

Once known as the ‘magic mineral’, became a much-utilised resource in many industries, particularly in construction – where it was commonly used as insulation – and ship-building. As recently as 2008, India was still importing asbestos in large quantities from Canadian mines.

石棉曾以"神奇的矿产"著称,是一种大量使用于许多行业的资源,尤其是建筑业(通常被用作绝缘材料)和造船业。近至2008年,印度仍然从加拿大进口大量石棉。

However, in recent decades, growing evidence has pointed to the lethality of asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is now closely associated with the development of lung disease and mesothelioma - an aggressive form of cancer that has become the substance’s grim calling card.

然而,在最近几十年里,越来越多的证据表明石棉对人有害,足以致命。现在,人们认为接触石棉可致肺尘病和间皮瘤,后者是一种很厉害的癌症,它成了石棉发出的死亡帖。

Today, the huge open-pit mine at Asbestos lies silent, but it has left a gaping scar around 1,140 feet (350 metres) deep and more than two sq miles (six sq kilometres) in size. Canada is still struggling with the deadly legacy of the substance removed from this hole. Years after the mining ceased, Quebec leads Canada in reported cases of mesothelioma.

今天,石棉镇的巨大露天石棉矿一片寂静,但它留下了一个350米深、面积达6平方公里的深坑,犹如大地裂开的一道疤痕。加拿大今天仍然为这个深坑开采的物质所留下的致命遗产而伤透脑筋。已经停止开采多年,但魁北克地区已知的间皮瘤病例数量在加拿大仍居首位。

This year, the federal government will finally ban the "manufacture, use, import and export" of asbestos and products that contain it. The fact that this deadly substance is only being completely banned this year, decades after other countries made its use illegal, indicates how long asbestos has been an important part of Canada’s export economy.

今年,加拿大联邦政府将最终禁止"生产、使用、进口和出口"石棉,以及含有石棉的产品。这种致命物质在其他国家已被禁止使用几十年,加拿大今年才将其完全禁止,由此可见石棉长期是加拿大出口经济很重要的部分。

Now deprived of its main source of income, Asbestos, has had to find other ways to support its population.

失去了主要收入来源的石棉镇,现在不得不寻找其他方法来养活全镇的居民。

Mine beer

石棉矿啤酒

But it is a challenge that residents of the town have risen to with surprising energy.

但该镇民众却以惊人的干劲奋起应对这个挑战。

Danick Pellerin’s story is one that many younger Asbestos citizens can relate to. Born to a generation that witnessed the final years of the industry in the town, he left in search of work.

佩莱林(Danick Pellerin)的故事,在石棉镇的许多年轻人当中都能够引起共鸣。他那一代人见证了石棉产业的最后几年,然后他离开了石棉镇,外出找工作。

But in 2014, beer brought him back to Asbestos, along with a desire to play his part in re-invigorating the town. Along with another local, Yan St-Hilaire, he founded the Moulin 7 microbrewery with the help of provincial government funding.

但在2014年,啤酒把他带回了石棉镇,随之回来的还有他为重振故乡出一份力的愿望。在魁北克省政府的资助下,他跟另一位当地人圣伊莱尔(Yan St-Hilaire)一起创办了Moulin 7微酿啤酒厂。

“We had always worked outside Asbestos, so our priorities were to make good beer, and to make it locally,” says Pellerin. “Some people can have a dim view of this community, or that it is boring, or not much is going on, but it’s obvious that there is a whole lot going on. It’s a new environment here.”

佩莱林说,"我们之前一直不在石棉镇工作,所以我们的首要任务是酿造好啤酒,让它本土化。有些人可能对这个社区持悲观态度,认为它无趣,或者太过平淡,但很显然,有很多事情正在发生。这里有了新的气象。"

Setting up a brewery in a town called Asbestos might not seem like a shrewd business move at first. Especially as the brewery is located just over 300 feet (100m) from the edge of the open mine. But rather than hide the fact, Pellerin and St-Hilaire whole-heartedly celebrate their link to the town’s mining heritage.

在一个叫石棉的小镇建啤酒厂,这生意乍看起来似乎不精明。尤其是,啤酒厂距离露天石棉矿的边缘只有100米。不过,佩莱林和圣伊莱尔无心隐瞒这个事实,而是发自内心地庆祝他们与该镇采矿历史的联系。

St-Hilaire’s father, Normand, worked at the Jeffrey mine, and the pair have tried to reflect the town’s history in the names of their beers. Among its products are a lager called Mineur (Miner) and an American pale ale called Spello – a mining term for a short break.

圣伊莱尔的父亲诺尔芒曾在杰弗里矿工作,两个创业者想用啤酒的名字来反映该镇的历史。在他们的产品中,有一款贮陈啤酒叫Mineur(矿工),还一种美国淡啤酒叫Spello,这是一个采矿术语,是短暂休息的意思。

The pair even brew a white Indian Pale Ale called ‘La Ciel Ouvert’ (The Open Sky), using water taken from a lake that has accumulated at the bottom of the mine. When that beer was released, it got people talking, but Pellerin was unperturbed.

佩莱林和圣伊莱尔甚至用露天矿坑所形成的小湖的湖水,酿造了一款名为La Ciel Ouvert(露天)的白色印度淡啤。投放市场的时候,大家议论纷纷,但佩莱林不为所动。

“We had the water analysed and it is perfect,” he says. “People wanted to taste it.”

他说,"我们对水质进行了分析,水质非常好,大家都想尝尝。"

The award-winning brewery is now draws Quebec’s many bikers who stop off at Asbestos while touring the countryside.

这个赢得了奖项肯定的酿酒厂,现在吸引了魁北克许多骑自行车的游客,他们在乡间骑行时,会在石棉镇停留。

“We’re not on a major tourist route, but people come regardless,” explains Pellerin. “At the moment, we employ about 19 employees, between the bar and the brewery. We’ve experienced good growth, and we’re hoping to increase production by 30% next year.”

佩莱林解释说,"我们不在主要的旅游路线上,但人们还是会慕名而来。目前,酒吧和啤酒厂一共雇佣了19名员工。生意成长很快,希望来年能将产量提升30%。"

Pellerin is confident the town is finding its feet again, despite keeping its toxic name.

佩莱林相信,尽管这个小镇保留了"有毒"的名字,但它正重新站稳脚跟。

“People are coming back, with experiences in the cities and from further afield,” he says. “I think they’re coming back to a place that has changed, and that is much more open, and with less of a closed mentality.

他说,"人们又回来了,带着在城里以及远方的经历。我想,他们回到了一个已经不同以往的地方,小镇变得更加开放,少了一些固守自封。"

Rising to the challenge

迎接挑战

Hugues Grimard, the Mayor of Asbestos, recognises that the roughly 7,000 inhabitants of Asbestos faced a major challenge when a controversial $58 million Canadian ($45 million US) government loan to support the mine was cancelled in 2012, leading to its closure.

石棉镇的市长格里马尔(Hugues Grimard)承认,在2012年的时候,政府扶持矿场的5800万加元(4500万美元)贷款引发争议而取消,结果导致矿场关闭后,这里的大约7000名居民面临着很大的挑战。

The town has seen a decades-long exodus as the industry has waned, with its population falling from more than 10,000 inhabitants at the mine’s peak in the 1970s, to just over 6,000 in 1999, the year the UK fully banned asbestos imports. The mine’s final shuttering was a blow, but it hasn’t resulted in a fresh exodus.

随着这个行业的衰落,这个镇子经历了长达数十年的人口外流,从上世纪70年代矿场生产顶峰时期的一万多居民,降至1999年的仅6000人,就在那一年,英国全面禁止石棉的进口。矿场的最终关闭对石棉镇是沉重打击,却并没有导致新的人口流失。

“For us, the important thing was to be optimistic,” says Grimard. “To rise to the challenge that the government had left us with. We worked to bring everyone (in the community) together – industry, economic partners and elected officials, to put together a solid base.”

格里马尔说,"对我们来说,重要的是保持乐观,以应对政府留给我们的挑战。我们努力让(社区中)的每个人都团结起来——企业界、经济伙伴和民选官员,大家拧成一股绳。"

And there has been some encouraging news since the last census in 2011, with unemployment in the town falling from 12.4% to 7.6% in 2016.

自2011年上一次人口普查以来,已经出现了一些令人鼓舞的讯息,该镇的失业率从12.4%降至2016年的7.6%。

The town did have assets beyond the mine to help begin the recovery – the proximity of the US border made it home to several transportation companies, while agriculture has provided a fall-back employer. Responsiveness is also part of the town’s strategy now.

石棉镇确实也拥有矿山之外的资产,帮助启动复苏。毗邻美国边境的地理位置,使其成为多家运输公司的所在地,而农业则是一个可资依靠的雇主。现在,迅速反馈也是该镇策略的一部分。

“That way, if opportunity calls, we can respond as a priority,” says Grimard. “At present, I can say that we have met this challenge in diversifying our economy.”

"这样一来,如果机会来了,我们就可以优先回应,"格里马尔说。"目前,可以说我们遇到了实现经济多元化的挑战。"

One big win since the mine closed has been the establishment of a regional processing centre for one of Canada’s more gourmet food products – ducks. It provides jobs for over a hundred workers and a ‘now hiring’ sign still hangs outside the factory, despite opening in 2016.

石棉矿关闭后,一大胜利是在这里建立了一个地区加工厂,为加拿大着名美味之一——鸭子作食品加工。工厂招聘了100多名工人,已在2016年投入运营,但工厂外面仍然挂着"招聘中"的牌子。

The town’s association with a product like asbestos hasn’t stood in the way of the company behind the facility, Brome Lake Ducks. With increasing demand from Canadian consumers and access to a new market for duck meat sales in Mexico, the company is aiming to produce four million ducks per year by 2020.

该镇与石棉的联系,并没有令这个加工中心背后的企业布罗姆湖鸭业(Brome Lake Ducks)却步。随着加拿大消费者对鸭肉需求的增长,加之新开辟的墨西哥鸭肉市场,这家公司计划到2020年,每年生产400万只鸭子。

Snow not minerals

雪不是矿物质

But the drive to rebuild the town’s economy isn’t restricted to food and drink. In the hills surrounding Asbestos is another resource aside from the once-prized minerals – snow.

推动小镇经济重建的,还不仅仅是美食和啤酒。围绕石棉镇的山丘,拥有曾经弥足珍贵的矿产之外的另一个资源——雪。

Just a few minutes north of the town lies the ski resort of Mont Gleason, which is a major seasonal employer in the area during Quebec’s snowy winters. Operating since 1968, the resort is set to celebrate 100 years in operation in December.

该镇往北几分钟车程的地方,就是格利森山(Mont Gleason)滑雪度假村,在魁北克多雪的的冬季,它是一个主要的季节性雇主。这个1968年开业的度假村,将在今年12月庆祝投入运营50年。

Mont Gleason differs from many European commercial ski resorts by operating as a not-for-profit, with deep roots in nearby communities, including Asbestos. It has four ski lifts and almost 10 km of slopes.

格利森山不同于许多欧洲的商业性滑雪村,是一个非营利机构,深深扎根于附近的社区,包括石棉镇。它有四个滑雪缆车线,山坡长度近10公里。

While the work at Mont Gleason tends to evaporate in the spring along with the snow, during the winter it provides regular employment.

虽然格利森山的工作跟雪一起在春天就会消失,但在冬天,它能够提供稳定的工作。

“We have more than 250 people working in the winter season” explains Maryse Gingras, from nearby Victoriaville, who heads up sustainable development at the ski resort. “A lot of people are repeat employees, but we also employ a lot of students and retired people. They’re all in very different kinds of positions – with people working the chair lifts, at the ski schools, or inside at the restaurant. We are most busy from December to March.”

"在冬季,我们的员工超过250人,"金格拉斯(Maryse Gingras)解释道。她来自附近的维多利亚维尔(Victoriaville),在度假村负责可持续发展方面的工作。"很多人每年冬天会固定来这里工作,不过我们也会雇佣很多的学生和退休人员。什么职位都有——有缆车部门,有滑雪学校,还有餐厅。从12月到次年3月是我们最忙的时候。"

Gingras points to constant re-investment as a major reason that Mont Gleason has stayed viable, even through tough economic periods and harsh winters.

金格拉斯指出,持续性的再投资是格利森山滑雪场保持活力的主要原因,即使是在经济不景气的时候和严冬时节。

“[This year] we have had good growth in numbers,” notes Gingras. “We are planning to add a new four-person chair lift and re-model the chalets in the coming two years. You have to re-invest every year.”

"(今年)游客增长数字很好看,"金格拉斯说。"我们计划在未来两年内增加一条新的四人椅缆车线,并对度假屋进行重新设计。增加投资每年都不能少。"

Re-mining the remnants

重新利用残余物

Walking around Asbestos and the surrounding area, it is hard not to notice the legacy of its mining past littering the landscape. Tailings, the towering piles of debris left by mining activity, are especially evident. These mounds of crushed rock and minerals are still piled up close to homes and buildings.

走在石棉镇及周围地区,你很难不注意到四处都有采矿留下的残迹。尾矿,也就是采矿活动留下的一堆堆高耸的矿渣废料,尤其触目。这些碎石和矿渣,依旧堆放在住宅和各种建筑物附近。

There have been attempts in the past to make use of this mining waste. Mine tailings were used in the town of Thetford Mines to provide extra grip on the roads during winter, for instance, but the practice was swiftly stopped amid concerns over its impact on air quality.

之前,曾有人试图利用这些采矿废物。比如冬天的时候,塞特福特石棉矿所在的镇子会用尾矿料来增加马路的摩擦力,但因为担心影响空气质量,这种做法很快就停止了。

There is, however, renewed interest in these tailings from industries that are hoping to re-mine them for other valuable chemicals. In particular, the tailings have a high magnesium content, which is in high demand for consumer electronics like mobile phones and electric cars.

然而,那些希望废物利用,在废弃矿渣中提炼其他有价值化学物质的行业,对这些尾矿产生了兴趣。尤其是尾矿中镁的含量非常高,手机、电动汽车等消费类电子产品对它有着很大的需求。

With talk of trade sanctions against China – currently the world’s main supplier of magnesium – being openly discussed by the current US administration, Asbestos could find a new lucrative trade for the waste left by its former industry.

随着美国现任政府公开提及要对中国(目前全球主要的镁供应国)实施贸易制裁,石棉镇可能会从它以前的工业所留下的废物中找到一个利润丰厚的新生意。

A new project has been set up under the banner of the Alliance Magnesium (AMI), which has established a pilot facility near the town to test the viability of extracting magnesium from nearby tailings. The company expects 70 jobs to be created if operations shift to commercial production.

一个刚成立的新商业公司,名叫镁联盟(Alliance Magnesium ,AMI),在石棉镇附近建立了一个试验设施,测试从附近的尾矿中提取镁的可行性。如果实现了商业化生产,该公司估计会创造70个就业岗位。

Whether this will result in long-term jobs in the area remains to be seen. A similar project set up prior to the closure of Jeffrey Mine eventually ran out of cash, but Alliance Magnesium insists that improved, greener extraction technologies that set it apart from those earlier ventures.

这是否会给该地区带来长期工作岗位,目前尚有待观察。在杰弗里矿关闭之前,曾经有过一个类似的项目,最后却耗尽了资金,但镁联盟坚称,经过改进的更为环保的提炼技术,将使其有别于之前的商业项目。

Crypto-mining

加密货币矿场

Another very different type of mining could potentially make its way to the Asbestos region too.

还有一种截然不同的采矿方式,也有可能进入石棉镇地区。

An hour to the south, in the university town of Sherbrooke, one of the province’s largest Bitcoin mining operations has popped up, to the tune of $250 million Canadian ($195 million US), and the cryptocurrency firm BitFarms is expanding across southern Quebec.

往南一个小时车程,在舍布鲁克(Sherbrooke)大学城,出现了魁北克省最大的比特币矿场之一,加密货币公司BitFarms正在该省的南部各地扩张,投资规模达到了2.5亿加拿大元(约合1.95亿美元)。

In March, local media reported on potential plans for a cryptocurrency operation at the abandoned mine works at Thetford Mines. Cheap electricity plus large facilities and pre-existing large-scale electrical connections make it an attractive site.

今年3月,当地媒体报道了一家加密货币公司有可能在塞特福特石棉矿废弃的矿场进行投资的计划。便宜的电力,各种大型设施,加之现成的大规模电气网络,使其成为一个非常有吸引力的地点。

But Asbestos Mayor Hugues Grimard is careful not to commit too readily to the idea of something similar in Asbestos. “If a developer approaches us, we’ll look at the project,” he insists, but adds that priority needs to be given to developments that stimulate the local economy.

但石棉镇的市长格里马尔对类似项目落户该镇,口风很紧。他坚称,"如果有开发商找到我们,我们会研究。"但他又补充说,需要优先考虑那些能够刺激当地经济的开发项目。

Quebec premier Philippe Couillard meanwhile has expressed scepticism regarding the proliferation of cryptocurrency mining facilities around the province, doubting the actual benefit to communities.

与此同时,魁北克省省长库亚尔(Philippe Couillard)对加密货币矿场在全省遍地开花持怀疑态度,不相信它能给社区带来什么实际的好处。

But even without this sort of high-tech industry, there can be no doubt that Asbestos is undergoing a transformation that could see the town emerge from the cloud cast by the mineral it supplied around the world.

但即使没有这种高科技产业,石棉镇也毫无疑问正在经历着一场变革,人们可以看到这座小城正在摆脱因为向世界各地输出石棉而留下的坏名声。

For the people who live there, the name of their town is something they intend to be proud of, rather than ashamed.

对于生活在那里的民众来说,"石棉"是他们想要引以为傲而非令人羞耻的镇名。

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