Energy transition or more militarism? US defence subsidies for a graphite mine near Montreal provokes anger in civil society

Coalition Québec meilleure mine – MiningWatch Canada

Never before seen in Quebec: Funding for Lomiko Metals by the U.S. Department of Defense provokes consternation among local residents opposed to the La Loutre project. 

(Duhamel, Québec) – On May 16, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it is providing US$8.35 million to Lomiko Metals Inc. (Lomiko) towards developing its open-pit graphite mine in the Petite-Nation region of Quebec. This project lies within the heart of the recreational tourism triangle between Montreal, Ottawa, and Mont-Tremblant. The Canadian federal Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is also providing a C$4.9 million subsidy.

This project has no support from local communities or organizations. Local communities strongly condemn this U.S. interference in Quebec territory for military purposes, and their calls are being echoed by a number of national environmental groups. Previously, on August 6 2023, 450 people protested in Lac-des-Plages against this exact mining project. Dozens of anti-mining billboards are posted throughout the region.

For years, Lomiko Metals has been promoting this mine as essential to the energy transition and the electrification of the transportation sector, with no evidence to substantiate this claim. This latest investment by foreign military interests – even before environmental assessments have been completed – is a major departure from the project’s previously advertised purpose and comes as a shock to the local population.

Widespread militarization of the subsoil in southern Quebec?

Lomiko's La Loutre open-pit mine is not the only project to provoke outcry in southern Quebec – a region facing a mining boom since 2020. Whether in the Outaouais, Laurentides, Lanaudière or Mauricie, local municipalities and communities see the mining industry as a threat to society and the environment, not a solution.

The US Department of Defense is also subsidizing a proposed cobalt mine by Fortune Minerals in the Northwest Territories, raising fears this may become a trend where similar exploration projects in Quebec receive further subsidies to the detriment of local populations, particularly in Mauricie and Lanaudière.

Is Quebec complicit?

In a world seeing a sharp increase in global conflict, it has long been established that a sizeable portion of Quebec’s so-called “critical and strategic minerals'' are being coveted to fuel an arms race. Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MRNF) Maïté Blanchette Vézina stated during a provincial budget review on April 25 her objective of “developing an energy sector and supply chain for the [energy] transition of the American government.”

The investment agreement makes no mention of participation by the Quebec government, raising red flags as to whether the Quebec government was consulted about this deal or gave its approval. In any case, it is clear the governments involved gave no consideration whatsoever to the wishes of the local population.


“With this joint announcement by the Canadian government and the U.S. Department of Defense, as elected officials we see what was already strong social opposition to this mining project turning into outright anger. More than ever, citizens feel they are being completely ignored,” David Pharand, Mayor of Duhamel, co-spokesperson for government and media relations for the Alliance Municipalités de Petite-Nation Nord.

“It doesn't matter to the U.S. military that the area chosen to support its military efforts is populated and a natural treasure on the outskirts of Montreal and Ottawa. We are witnessing the sacrifice of an entire region and its population. Others will follow,” Louis St-Hilaire, President of the Regroupement de Protection des Lacs de la Petite-Nation and spokesperson for the QLAIM Coalition.

“Ottawa and Washington, with the complicity of Quebec, are prepared to sacrifice the Petite-Nation to wage war. Sacrifice and war are words that go well together. But that doesn't change anything: the people here will continue to fight back and do everything in their power to prevent this project,” Claude Bouffard, coordinator of the Comité citoyen d'opposition au projet minier La Loutre.

“It's shameful to lie to those who support recreation and tourism that sacrificing their lands will serve a transition to renewable energy to save the planet, when what they’re doing is the opposite – supporting the militarism that accelerates its destruction,” Pierre Jasmin, Secretary General of Artists for Peace.

“Militarizing a harmful mining project that has been rejected by the public even before an environmental assessment has been carried out is an extraordinary act of violence by the system against the people and nature that our governments are supposed to be defending, not attacking,” Rodrigue Turgeon, lawyer and co-spokesperson for the Coalition Québec meilleure mine.

"The U.S. military's outright interference openly confirms that the ‘energy transition’ propaganda of Canada’s mineral development policy has been hijacked to serve a military purpose,” Jamie Kneen, Canada Program Co-Lead, MiningWatch Canada

“In the wake of all these mining projects, lakes, rivers and underground water sources are being systematically sacrificed. While this reality is already very concerning, to see that these sacrifices will be made to advance American militarization is simply unacceptable. Our governments must understand the seriousness of what is at stake and act accordingly,” Rébecca Pétrin, Executive Director, Eau Secours.

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Source: Coalition Québec meilleure mine

For further information:

  • Louis St-Hilaire, co-spokesperson for the QLAIM Coalition, 514-591-9167, [email protected]   
  • David Pharand, Mayor of Duhamel, co-spokesperson for the Alliance Municipalités de Petite-Nation Nord in government and media relations, 819-981-0308, [email protected]   
  • Claude Bouffard, coordinator of the Comité citoyen d'opposition au projet minier La Loutre, 819-712-8394, [email protected]   
  • Pierre Jasmin, Secretary General of Artistes pour la paix, [email protected]
  • Émile Cloutier-Brassard, responsible for mining issues, Eau Secours, 514-799-2383, [email protected]   
  • Rodrigue Turgeon, Coalition Québec meilleure mine and MiningWatch Canada, 819-444-9226, [email protected]