Reforms to Quebec’s mining act don’t reflect existing agreements: Nunavik groups
Nunavik groups say proposed changes to Quebec’s mining act don’t go far enough to address the region’s distinct needs and existing agreements. Bill 43, a bill to reform Quebec’s mining act, was presented last spring, although public hearings on the bill wrapped up in Quebec City Oct. 1.
The draft bill imposes tougher environmental protections while increasing legal requirements for mining companies looking to explore in Quebec — changes that are welcomed in Nunavik.
But Makivik Corp. said the bill should not require that impact and benefits agreements between Nunavik and mining companies be made public. In other words, these should remain secret.
Article 163 of Bill 43 calls for information obtained from holders of mining rights to be made public as the provincial government sees fit. That information includes the quantity and value of ore extracted, as well as the royalties paid out during the previous year.
“These are private agreements between Aboriginal groups and the mining companies,” said Makivik spokesman Adamie Delise Alaku, who presented to the hearings Sept. 30. “And we are a private corporation.”
“We want Inuit companies to have a chance to bid on these projects,” he said. “If these are made public, you’d have southern contractors jumping on it and Inuit entities would lose out.”
The majority of Hydro-Quebec’s IBAs remain confidential, Alaku pointed out.
If agreements were made public, Makivik also fears that governments may see room to cut core funding to social services in Nunavik, Alaku said.
“We don’t want funding to be reduced because of what they’re seeing in these IBAs,” he said. “IBAs are meant as catch-up agreements.”
Makivik was not alone in its request — Quebec’s Cree and Innu groups also told the hearings that their agreements with mining companies should be kept confidential.
Alaku said the issue reveals a lack of understanding of the reality in Nunavik and other northern and Aboriginal regions of Quebec.
Makivik, along with the Kativik Regional Government, told the hearings last week that Bill 43 should conform to its existing agreements: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the 2002 Sanarrutik agreement on social and economic development, which also includes provisions for mining.
Makivik has suggested the government draft a second part of the bill to address the territory covered by the JBNQA.
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