MiningWatch Canada is concerned about the statements made by junior mining company Strateco Resources claiming that recent hearings in Mistissini and Chibougamau showed it had “strong support” for its Matoush Uranium Exploration Project in the James Bay region of Quebec. The company’s press release does not accurately reflect the significant opposition it faces from the Cree and stakeholders, nor the resulting risks to approval and further advancement of this project.
At Mistissini, none of the 10 presenters were supportive of the project, and the estimated 300 people in attendance clapped and cheered those who spoke against it. Most notably, Chief Richard Shecapio unequivocally stated the community’s rejection of the project and commented that it went against some of the fundamental values of the Cree people. The Grand Council of the Cree has since come out with a statement supporting the Mistissini Cree and their rejection of the project.
In Chibougamau, there were approximately 50 people present. Here the Mayors of Chibougamau and Chapais, on behalf of the Regional Conference of Elected Officials spoke in favour of the project, as did two individuals from Chibougamau.
A resident of Chapais expressed a variety of concerns about the project and commented that the information provided to local people was one-sided and lacked critical views on uranium mining and the nuclear industry. Given the lack of transparency and dialogue about the project she expressed frustration about the position that the mayors were taking. Three other presenters representing regional and Quebec-wide organizations spoke against the project.
A representative of the Cree family on whose trap line the project is located, and who has been employed by Strateco, expressed his support for the project. Responding to a question from a review panel member he admitted that he and his family had not been informed of the risks of uranium mining and was not sure if he would continue to eat food harvested from the area around the project if a mine went ahead.
"To make this statement of strong support for their project, you have to wonder if they were at the same hearings with the rest of us! Not only is there significant opposition to this project but there are also serious flaws in the environmental studies provided by Strateco. With everything that's in front of them, I don't see how the review committees could recommend approval." commented Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada.
The committees tasked with the review process, mandated by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement will consider the comments they receive through the hearings, as well as any written submissions. They also have to review the quality of the information provided in the environmental impact statement submitted by the company. During the hearing process, presenters from MiningWatch, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the Cree Regional Health Authority, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and the Quebec Network of Environmental Organizations highlighted a number of significant deficiencies in the environmental impact statement.
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For more information contact Ramsey Hart, 613-614-9937, [email protected]