Mining project proposal sparks concern in Kanesatake – by Christopher Curtis (Montreal Gazette – May 30, 2016)

In an effort to keep a controversial mining project alive, a Montreal-based developer will present its multi-million dollar proposal to the Kanesatake Mohawks on Thursday.

The community meeting comes after citizens in neighbouring Oka rejected a pitch by development firm Eco-Niobium last month during a public forum.

An agent from the firm will present a revised draft of the project on the Mohawk territory—eliciting concerns from community members who say the niobium mine could contaminate the region’s water table. The proposed mining site is just a few kilometres from the Kanesatake settlement and falls squarely in the band council’s land claim.

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon has come under fire for arranging Thursday’s meeting. Critics say he’s contravening the will of the people by engaging in a discussion with Eco-Niobium.

“We don’t want to consult, we’ve already given this project an unequivocal no,” said Kanesatake resident Clifton Nicholas, a filmmaker and environmental activist. “People didn’t want it then and they don’t want it now. It doesn’t matter what kind of snake oil is being sold, (Simon) wants to buy it. As an individual I respect him but politically, he’s out of whack.”

Niobium is a mineral used in the production of steel and it was mined in Oka up until 1977. The mine shut down amid claims that its excessive use of local resources syphoned well water from local farmers.

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