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Quebec company named port operator at Marathon

Town of Marathon, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg select QSL to revive, attract cargoes to Lake Superior harbour
(Supplied by the Town of Marathon)

The Town of Marathon has chosen Quebec City-based QSL to be the operators of its proposed commercial port on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Considered a North American leader in port terminal operations, QSL has been working with Marathon, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, and its Peninsula Harbour Port Authority Corporation in shaping the redevelopment of the waterfront site at the former Marathon Pulp facility, which was permanently shuttered in 2019.

Peninsula Harbour Port Authority Corporation is a joint venture between the Town of Marathon and its neighbour, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (formerly Pic River First Nation).

In the release, Marathon and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg said the port is intended to service the regional mining and forestry sectors, and those in the logistics and manufacturing industries while respecting the environment and Lake Superior.

QSl’s job, in conjunction with the port authority, will be working on developing the infrastructure and attracting cargoes to town. They’ve been previously working to establish a business and operational plan that will support area industry and attract new business.

For more than a decade, Marathon has been involved in remediating the once-toxic brownfield site and is now ready to open the property to port traffic and light-industrial use. The former mill buildings were demolished. The vacant site will repurposed with “substantial storage capabilities” and multimodal options connecting marine traffic to rail and road connections, across to the release.

Activity is picking up in the community of 3,100 due to the pending construction of Generation Mining’s palladium open-pit mine, 10 kilometres north of the town. New recreational waterfront and residential developments locally are also at hand.

"We have been working on this concept for several years now, so it is exciting to see that we are moving forward with this project and unlocking its economic potential,” said Daryl Skworchinski, Marathon’s CAO and president of the port authority in a statement.

“This will be a critical development to help build and sustain the local and regional economy and create new business and industry opportunities while respecting the environment and Lake Superior. The partnership with QSL is an excellent fit for us based on their experience and network.”

Currently, there is no commercial port on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. To the west of Marathon, the BMI Group has plans to set up a commercial port down the shore at the vacated former mill site in Red Rock.

QSL has more than 2,000 employees and activities in 65 ports and terminals in Canada and the U.S. Its port terminals are Green Marine certified and in the process of receiving ISO 14001 and 45001 certifications. They were the first Canadian maritime company to join the United Nations Global Compact. 

Gino Becerra, Ontario vice president at QSL, was pleased to be the “partner of choice” to revive the port.

“Furthermore, restoring its operations will strengthen supply chains by connecting resources to midstream processing and refining, and downstream manufacturing for the benefit of natural resources and critical minerals.”