Quebec – Yves-François Blanchet, Quebec’s environment minister, indicated Thursday that the Parti Québécois government wants to order a consultation on uranium mining in the province.
Blanchet said the consultation is still in the “reflection stage,” but hinted it could take the form of a “generic BAPE” consultation.
The BAPE is Quebec’s environmental-impact body, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement. It usually conducts consultations on the environmental impact of specific projects. A generic BAPE would look at the issue of uranium mining without reference to a specific project.
“We would be irresponsible not to,” Blanchet added. The issue came up in National Assembly committee hearings on the spending estimates of the environment department. Jacques Marcotte, Liberal MNA for Portneuf riding near Quebec City, accused Blanchet’s department of blocking the Matoush uranium project in the James Bay region.
Located 275 kilometres north of Chibougamau and 210 kilometres northeast of Mistissini, the mine project is in territory covered by the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement and has not received the approval of the Cree First Nation.
Strateco Resources Inc. of Montreal wants to develop Matoush, which would be Quebec’s first uranium mine. Marcotte said Matoush is a $340-million project that would create 160 jobs.
Blanchet said he would not comment on Matoush because it is before the courts, with a first court appearance set for Friday in Quebec City.
Strateco is suing Blanchet, in his capacity as environment minister, because Blanchet will not give his consent to Strateco’s application to do exploration work, its first phase in developing the mine.
But the minister added that the social acceptability of the Matoush uranium mine has to be taken into consideration.
“And the Cree community does not give its social acceptance,” Blanchet said, adding that the Crees “vehemently oppose” Matoush.
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