The Hidden Face of Transport Electrification: A “mining boom” that threatens to blow up the environment
Quebec City. While the “Objectif Nord” conference is being held today in Quebec City, a coalition of citizen and environmental organizations is sounding the alarm about the hidden face of transportation electrification, an unprecedented “mining boom” observed in many regions of Quebec and associated environmental impacts.
“We are in favour of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the electrification of transportation, but not at any cost to communities and the environment. There are fragile and sensitive environments to protect, laws and standards to review, and especially strategies to put in place to reduce the global footprint of the industry and modes of transportation – even if they are all electric,” says Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for the Coalition Québec meilleure mine.
The coalition comes as the journal Les Affaires’ annual Objectif Nord conference welcomes mining and business representatives today to discuss new trends in the mining industry, including the use of metals and minerals in the electrification of transport.
Millions of tons of mining waste
The organizations list a dozen or so advanced projects and more than 350 million tonnes of potentially toxic mining waste that would be generated over the coming years with the arrival of new lithium, graphite and rare earth mines in Quebec. Many of these projects are located in fragile, resort, and recreational tourism environments, as well as in non-traditionally mining areas. The risks are real for lakes and streams downstream of these mine sites, as well as for air quality and noise, with dust emissions, blasting, and increased transport of heavy trucks.
Controversial projects that have recently made headlines include those of Nouveau Monde Graphite in Saint-Michel-des-Saints (between Mont Tremblant National Park and Lake Taureau Regional Park), Canada Carbon in Grenville-sur-le-Rouge (which has threatened to sue the municipality for $96 million if it continues to oppose the project), and Sayona Mining near Amos (a lithium mine project within 500m of an important esker).
Water and resort environments endangered
It is mainly the risks of water pollution and the conservation of natural and recreational environments that are of concern to affected citizens. “Whether the mining production is for the electrification of transportation, or the mine itself is all electric, this does not change the destruction of territories and landscapes caused by this industry at the local level, nor the risks high levels of water pollution related to operations and the millions of tons of mining waste left behind,” states Daniel Tokatéloff, retired engineer and administrator of the Association for the Protection of Lake Taureau, in the Lanaudière region.
Norman Éthier, SOS Citizens Committee Grenville-sur-le-Rouge, comments: “It is also an immense concern to preserve the quality of life and the quality of the groundwater and the Calumet River, which flows into the Ottawa River, which motivated hundreds of citizens in our municipality to mobilize against Canada Carbon’s open pit graphite mine project.”
Paul Comeau, Coalition of opponents of a mining project in Haute-Matawinie (COPH), Saint-Michel-des-Saints, adds: “It’s foolish to allow, even today, such mining projects in any environment in Quebec. We need much stricter limits and standards, and that the government apply those standards.”
A mining law that always takes precedence
As recent cases of lawsuits in Grenville-sur-le-Rouge (Canada Carbon) and Barriere Lake (Copper One) have revealed, the Quebec Mining Act still threatens local communities and prevents them from truly taking action. development decisions that affect their population and territory. “It is high time for the Quebec government to harmonize the Mining Act with aboriginal constitutional rights and to abolish, once and for all, section 246 of the Planning and Development Act that prevents municipalities from banning mining activity in sensitive areas,” concluded Marc Nantel of the Vigilance Mines Regroupement in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
- Ugo Lapointe, Coalition Quebec Better Mine and MiningWatch, 514-708-0134
- Daniel Tokatéloff, Association for the protection of the Lac Taureau (APLT), 514-973-5187
- Norman Éthier, SOS Citizens Committee Grenville-sur-le-Rouge, 514-734-0295
- Paul Comeau, Coalition of Opponents of a Mining Project in Upper Matawinie (COPH), 514-748-6628
- Marc Nantel, Regroupement Vigilance Mines in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (REVIMAT), 819-737-8620
See also: The 2017 report of the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources: Le secteur minier du Québec
The Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine! was created in the spring of 2008 and today is made up of some thirty member organizations representing collectively more than 250,000 individuals, all over Quebec. The coalition’s mission is to review the way in which the mining sector is structured and developed in Québec, with the aim of promoting better social, environmental, and economic practices. Website: www.quebecmeilleuremine.org
The current members of the coalition: Action boréale Abitibi-Témiscamingue (ABAT) ▪ Alternatives ▪ Artistes pour la Paix ▪ Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement (ACME) ▪ Association de protection de l’environnement des Hautes-Laurentides (APEHL) ▪ Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA) ▪ Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) ▪ Centre de recherche en éducation et formation relatives à l’environnement et à l’écocitoyenneté ▪ Coalition de l’ouest du Québec contre l’exploitation de l’uranium (COQEU) ▪ Coalition Stop Uranium de Baie-des-Chaleurs ▪ Comité de vigilance de Malartic ▪ Conseil centrale CSN de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du Nord-du-Québec ▪ Écojustice ▪ Eco-vigilance Baie-des-Chaleurs ▪ Environnement Vert Plus Baie-des-Chaleurs ▪ Fondation Rivières ▪ Forum de l’Institut des sciences de l’environnement de l’UQAM ▪ Groupe solidarité justice ▪ Les AmiEs de la Terre du Québec ▪ Justice transnationale extractive (JUSTE) ▪ MiningWatch Canada ▪ Minganie sans uranium ▪ Mouvement Vert Mauricie ▪ Nature Québec ▪ Professionnels de la santé pour la survie mondiale ▪ Regroupement citoyen pour la sauvegarde de la grande baie de Sept-Îles ▪ Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire ▪ Regroupement vigilance mines Abitibi-Témiscamingue (REVIMAT) ▪ Réseau œcuménique justice et paix (ROJeP) ▪ Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGE) ▪ Sept-Îles sans uranium ▪ Société pour la nature et les parcs (SNAP-Québec) ▪ Société pour vaincre la pollution (SVP) ▪ Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ). Tous nouveaux membres bienvenus.