NAFTA challenge threatened over uranium mine in Quebec

Here's yet another reason to abrogate NAFTA and to not ratify the Canada-European Union 'free trade' agreement.

Strateco Resources Inc's chief executive Guy Hébert says that his company may 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. While an amount hasn't been specified, the company claims it has already invested $123 million in the mine.

Boucherville, Quebec-based Strateco (that according to media reports has both US and European investors) wants to operate the mine in Eeyou Istchee in the Otish Mountains, some 275-kilometres north of Chibougamau and 210 km northeast of Mistissini.

The base camp for the Matoush mine.
Photo: The base camp for the Matoush 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.

The Cree community of Mistissini strongly opposes the proposed uranium mine in Northern Quebec. Photo by Claude Bouchard/ Radio Canada.
Photo: The Cree community of Mistissini strongly opposes the proposed uranium mine in Northern Quebec. Photo by Claude Bouchard/ Radio Canada.

Last March, Quebec environment minister Yves-François Blanchet announced that no new permits would be issued for uranium exploration and mining projects in the province until after the government’s 18-month public consultation and an environmental review agency report on the industry. The following month Strateco announced it was suing the Quebec government for at least $16 million - money the company said it was losing while waiting for Quebec to make its decision about the mine. In August an interim Quebec Superior Court decision denied Strateco's demand for compensation.

News of this possible Strateco NAFTA challenge comes around the first anniversary of the Lone Pine Resources $250-million NAFTA challenge against Quebec's move to cancel oil and gas exploration permits for deposits under the St. Lawrence River.