(Quebec) The Coalition Québec meilleure mine (Better Mining Coalition) is appalled that federal Environment Minister Peter Kent has approved the Matoush uranium exploration project, despite opposition from the Mistissini Cree and the findings of a controversial review panel report from July of last year. “The federal review panel’s report raised several major deficiencies in the environmental impact study yet strangely still recommended approving the project. The legitimacy of the panel report has been further called into question by the revelation published in La Presse, that the president of the federal panel is also working for mining companies with projects throughout northern Quebec,” denounced the Coalition’s Ugo Lapointe.
Minister Kent’s decision came at the same time as the Mistissini Cree reiterated their demand for a halt to the project, which is being proposed by Strateco Resources. Minister Kent’s decision rests on the panel’s report that recognized that obtaining a social license should be an essential condition for the project to proceed. “The report also identified a long list of deficiencies in important areas such as impacts to surface and ground water, eco-toxicology, and social impacts,” explained Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada.
In November 2010, the Grand Council of the Cree and the Cree Nation of Mistissini concluded that the potential impacts of the project were greater than the potential benefits, and that the project ran counter to “fundamental Cree values”. Their positions were taken after a long process of assessing the positive and negative impacts of the proposed project.
“The Cree have good reason to oppose the project until there is a thorough examination of the long-term risk and impacts that it could pose for the area and its people. If the exploration project becomes a mine it would create 2-million tones of radioactive mine waste, with environmental risks that will last in perpetuity,” commented François Lapierre of the Association for the Protection of the Environment of the Upper Laurentians.
The Matoush uranium exploration project still needs the authorization of the government of Quebec to go forward.
The Coalition Québec meilleure mine is calling for the Quebec government to pursue its Plan Nord without uranium and reiterates its demand for a moratorium on the uranium industry, an industry that generates immense quantities of radioactive wastes. The coalition joins over 320 Quebec municipalities in calling for the moratorium.
“Most of Quebec’s proposed uranium projects are within the area of the Plan Nord. The government should pay attention to the message the Cree and the people of Quebec are sending and declare a moratorium immediately,” affirmed Marc Fafard of Sept-Îles Sans Uranium.
The Coalition Québec meilleure mine is also disturbed that Quebec tax-payers’ money is being invested in uranium mining companies. “By our most recent estimates Quebeckers have handed over $20-million to Strateco since 2005 and a total of $50 to $60 million has been invested in the various companies exploring for uranium across Quebec. It’s totally unacceptable that so much of Quebeckers’ money is wasted these projects when it could be better invested to support other economic opportunities,” said Lapointe.
For Information :
· Ugo Lapointe, Coalition Québec meilleure mine, 514-708-0134
· Ramsey Hart, MiningWatch Canada, 613-569-3439
· François Lapierre, APEHL, 819-436-0935
· Marc Fafard, Sept-Îles Sans Uranium, 418-961-3517