The economic activities of the North Shore are largely based on heavy industry and the primary processing of natural resources. These mainly comprise of the mining and forestry industries, aluminum production, and the production of hydroelectric power. The port of Sept-Îles plays a principal role in the North Shore’s industrial landscape, being the most important ore handling port in North America, with an annual volume of activity reaching over 27 million tons (consisting mainly of iron ore).


The North Shore is geographically isolated from major urban centers, and has been through the characteristic economic cycles of a resource region. However, the development of its economic activity over the years has provided a solid foundation for the region and for its many major projects to come. In the context of major industrial development in a Northern territory that is sparsely inhabited and located within a fragile ecosystem, issues of environmental and occupational health are important to ensure sustainable development. Additionally, these two components (environmental and occupational health) are inseparable and highly complementary.


These concerns, along with government policies with regard to the development of Northern Quebec, have led to the creation of the Institut Nordique de Recherche en Environnement et Santé au Travail (Northern Environment and Occupational Heatlh Research Institute, aslo known as INREST). This non-profit organization mainly focuses on environmental and occupational health-related questions as they pertain to Northern Quebec. More broadly, the purpose of the institute is to act as an environmental management system applied to the Northern region.