CAQ’s credibility on environment tested by proposed mine near pristine Abitibi water source – by Jonathan Montpetit (CBC News Montreal – November 25, 2018)

The 500 residents of La Motte, Que., don’t have have a gas station or even a convenience store, but they do enjoy some of the best-tasting drinking water in North America. So when an Australian mining firm began seeking approval to build an open-air lithium mine just a stone’s throw from the community’s water source, reactions were decidedly mixed in the town, located 50 kilometres northwest of Val-d’Or.

Some were eager for the 132 jobs the company, Sayona, is promising to create. La Motte’s town council unanimously passed a motion in July endorsing the project. Others, though, are concerned about the proposed mine’s proximity to the Saint-Mathieu-Lac-Berry esker, the 8,000-year-old ridge of stratified sand and gravel that naturally filters rain and snow in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of northern Quebec.

Residents have struggled to get answers about the environmental risks of a project that would rip a hole — 1,000 metres long, 600 metres wide and 200 metres deep — into the terrain.

However, Sayona has scaled its proposal to avoid triggering a mandatory review by Quebec’s environmental assessment agency, known by its French acronym as the BAPE. Mining projects that produce more than 2,000 tonnes of material daily are required by law to undergo a public consultation process.

Sayona’s Authier project in La Motte would produce 1,900 tonnes per day. The company fears a public review by the BAPE would delay the project, possibly “affecting its profitability and financing opportunities,” it said in a document released last month.

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