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MONTREAL — Quebec is moving steadfastly ahead on its Plan Nord project to open up the vast resource-rich northern reaches of the province. But there is one activity notably absent from the to-do list in the 20-year mining-forestry-energy action plan: uranium mining.
Despite progress made in recent years polishing Quebec’s image as an unwelcoming place for investment in mining ventures, uranium exploration and development continue to be blocked by the government over environmental, health and social concerns.
Quebec uranium mining company Strateco Resources Inc. – once promoted as a high-profile player in a previous, more ambitious incarnation of the Plan Nord – is caught in the middle of a seemingly endless conflict over the right to mine the yellow mineral.
The latest blow to Strateco’s nearly decade-long effort to launch the province’s first uranium mine – in Northern Quebec – is a recommendation from the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) agency that it would be premature at this time to authorize development of a uranium industry.
Allowing uranium mining operations would be “premature” in the current context because there are too many uncertainties and unanswered questions as to the risks involved, the BAPE said in its 626-page report recently made public. The report, based on one year of public consultations throughout the province, said Quebec should – however – carefully weigh the consequences of a temporary or permanent ban on uranium extraction, specifically the “legal and economic impacts.”
The Quebec government said it will establish an interdepartmental committee to assess the findings.
The province’s Cree Nation strongly opposes Strateco’s proposed mine. “The BAPE’s report confirms what the Cree Nation has long maintained: that uranium development poses unique and significant risks for our lands, our environment, our communities and our future generations,” Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees Matthew Coon Come said.
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