Quebec First Nations petition province to include rare earths under uranium ban – by Henry Lazenby ( – November 6, 2014)

TORONTO ( – A group of Quebec- and Labrador-based First Nations would like to see the Quebec government include rare earth elements in the same moratorium currently in force for uranium.

The Quebec government had decreed a moratorium on issuing exploration, development or mining permits for uranium projects in the province on March 28, 2013, until an independent study of the impacts of uranium was completed.

The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), which currently represented 43 tribal chiefs, said, during an assembly last month, the First Nations resolved to support the Eagle Village and Wolf Lake Algonquin First Nations in opposing Canadian firm Matamec Explorations’ proposed Kipawa rare earths project on First Nation reserve lands.

The AFNQL noted that it would communicate its position to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), which was holding public hearings this month on the uranium industry in Quebec.

The local opposition to uranium exploration and mining had all but snuffed out the provincial industry, exemplified by uranium project developer Strateco Resources in June, when it mothballed its flagship Matoush project, in the Otish Mountains, after spending more than $123-million.

Matamec had proposed to build, operate and decommission a rare earths openpit mine that would process 1.3-million tonnes of ore a year over a 15-year mine life. The mine would be about 40 km east of the municipality of Kipawa, on a territory where Eagle Village and Wolf Lake First Nations asserted Aboriginal title and rights.

In its statement, the AFNQL also accused the Quebec government of not fulfilling its duty to consult or accommodate the two Algonquin First Nations in the exploration phase or the current development phase of the Kipawa mine.

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