Boucherville-based Strateco Resources Inc. (which has both American and European investors) is suing the Quebec government over a proposed uranium mine in the Otish Mountains, located about 275-kilometres north of Chibougamau and 210 km northeast of Mistissini.
The Globe and Mail reports, “Quebec mining junior Strateco Resources Inc. is suing the provincial government for $190-million in investment losses following its decision to block the company’s uranium project after years of preliminary work.”
The article continues, “Strateco’s Matoush uranium project in Northern Quebec was once hailed as a key part of former premier Jean Charest’s Plan Nord, a multibillion-dollar effort to develop Quebec’s north, pinned on natural resource extraction. …[But] in March, 2013, the newly-elected Parti Québécois government imposed a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Quebec, pending an environmental review. Eight months later, Quebec’s environment minister refused to grant Strateco the certificate of authorization it needed to begin the advanced exploration phase of the project. The minister cited a ‘lack of sufficient social acceptability’ on the part of the local Cree community toward the planned uranium mine…”
The mine has been opposed by the Mistissini Cree, the Cree Regional Health Authority, the Coalition Québec meilleure mine!, the Quebec Network of Environmental Organizations, MiningWatch Canada, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
In a November 2013 campaign blog, we noted that Strateco Resources Inc’s chief executive Guy Hébert had said his company could use the Chapter 11 investor-state clause of the North American Free Trade Agreement to challenge the delay due to Quebec’s public consultation process related to the Matoush uranium mine.
We have also stated that the Canada-European Union ‘free trade’ agreement will likely mean more environmentally-unsustainable mining, freshwater destruction and violations of Indigenous title rights in Canada. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “Europe is seeking a comprehensive and aggressive global approach to acquiring the raw materials needed by its corporations. At its heart, CETA is a bid for unprecedented and uncontrolled European access to Canadian resources. The North and First Nations communities will be subjected to resource exploration and exploitation as Europe seeks permanent and secure access to our raw resources.”
With European investors, the company could use CETA to challenge the Quebec government on the Matoush mine. Barlow has commented, “The Harper government is aggressively promoting trade agreements that give mining corporations the right to sue governments with the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provision if their right to profit is limited by new environmental or human rights rules.”
The Council of Canadians is opposed to uranium mining, which creates toxic tailings and poses water contamination and other environmental risks and health hazards. We have called for a ban on all uranium exploration and mining, strengthening of legislation to ensure that any exploration or mining of other materials does not disturb or uncover uranium deposits, and fair, just transition programs for all communities and workers involved in the uranium mining industry.
NAFTA challenge threatened over uranium mine in Quebec (November 2013 blog)