For over 10 years Niocan Inc. has been pursuing the development of an underground niobium mine in southern Quebec near the town of Oka. Numerous concerns have been raised by the local communities including the residents of Oka and the Mohawk of Kanesatake. The Mohawk have aboriginal treaty rights to the area, which part of an unsettled land claim.
In a June 9th, 2010 statement the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake publicly rejected the project. The statement was made in anticipation of a Quebec Government decision on Niocan's request for a Certificate of Authorization to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.
In addition to potential infringement on aboriginal rights concerns about the project include:
- Consumption and contamination of groundwater by the mine.
- High concentration of radioactive elements in the ore body that would be disturbed by mining and pose a serious environmental and health risk including risks to the local drinking water supply.
- Conflict between mining and the agricultural and agrotourism potential of the region.
- Proximity of the mine to a park, a secondary school and many homes.
Nicoan President Bernard Coulombe is also is president of asbestos producer Jeffrey Mine Inc.