Communities Divided Over Uranium Exploration in the Outaouais

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

People who live and work in the Outaouais region of Québec are facing an onslaught of exploration for uranium.

A divisive debate ensued at a community meeting in Fort Colougne called by Aldershot Resources Ltd. on December 15, 2006 – a Friday night just before Christmas. Representatives from the company, Natural Resources Canada, and Health Canada told the residents there was nothing to fear from uranium exploration or a mine.

Aldershot is looking for mineable uranium in the Pontiac region on the north side of the Ottawa River and has staked 345 square kilometres of mining claims in the Outaouais region of western Québec.

The company is conducting rock sampling, geological surveys and radiometric surveys over its claims.

Aldershot was incorporated in British Columbia September 1987 as “Quattro Resources Ltd.”. It changed its name to Aldershot Resources Ltd. on October 31, 2001; its president is Jeremy Caddy.

It has exploration projects in Australia at Turee Creek and Yuinmery, as well as six in the Northern Territory, three applications for uranium exploration in Zambia, and one for a copper-gold project in Chile. It has five groups of uranium claims in BC and a total of five in Québec, including some in the Saguenay Region.

It has never developed a mine, and has never found an economically viable orebody.

The company has financed its operations to date through the issuance of common shares and the exercise of warrants and stock options. In the first half of 2006, it spent $81,000 on investor communications and only $190,000 on exploration on all its properties.

In Québec, the new 1998 Mining Act enables any prospector (a person who is 18 years of age and pays $30) to acquire a claim for mineral rights by designating the area on a Ministry map. The mining company is required to ask for “mutual agreement” before it enters on private lands to explore. However, if the landowner does not consent, the prospector will ask the government to expropriate a right of way allowing his exploration. In Section 235 of the Mining Act, it appears that the expropriation cannot be refused (see Why Québec is the Mining Industry’s Favourite Province). If a mine was ever to be developed it would have to be approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and would be subject to a federal Environmental Assessment.

The price of uranium has been rocketing upward in the last few years, driven by the possibility of increased demand, especially from China and India, and the lapsing of agreements to reclaim uranium from Soviet stockpiles and decommissioned nuclear warheads. The price is now over $70 US/lb and has increased seven-fold in the past five years.

For more information, contact Ian Huggett at Eco-Watch (819) 684-5342.