A coalition of concerned organizations and citizens urges Quebec to immediately halt the granting of exploration permits for graphite and lithium deposits in southern Quebec, which has exploded in the last 18 months .
“There is currently a real mining boom that could transform southern Quebec into open pit mines, the Mont-Tremblant region in particular,” says Louis St-Hilaire, spokesperson for the Regroupement de protection des lacs de la Petite. -Nation. He is part of the coalition of a dozen organizations which, in a letter sent to the government on Thursday, is asking for a moratorium on these grants, which they consider “chaotic, without planning and without citizen consultation”.
Since 2016, the year of a regulatory reform on mining rights, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MERN) has granted 15,000 “mineral exploration titles”, or claims, including 8,400 in the last 18 months only (see map).
The holder of a claim has “the exclusive right to search, for a period of two years, on the land which is the subject of it, for all the mineral substances which are part of the domain of the State” with a few exceptions, can we read on the MERN website. Graphite and lithium deposits are popular for the manufacture of batteries for electric cars, but other metals are also of interest to investors (cobalt, titanium, niobium).
Not all claims will become mines, but exploration operations can emerge at any time. Several are already in operation.
“We are not opposed to mining development, but would like more consultation with the population. This is why we are demanding a moratorium on the granting of mining rights,” explains Ugo Lapointe, founder of the organization Pour que le Québec a mieux MINE.
Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for the Coalition Québec mieux mine.
He regrets that the government allows industry to explore the subsoil close to national parks like Mont-Tremblant. Prospecting projects are even authorized in the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, where canoe-camping lovers converge.
He also argues that the world market is booming and that Quebec has impressive underground deposits. Because of the ease with which one can obtain a prospecting right – an operation which is done online and which costs a few tens of dollars – thousands of authorizations have been obtained.
“These rights are granted without consultation with the population concerned”, continues Mr. St-Hilaire who criticizes the Government of Quebec for having maintained many vaguenesses as to its objectives.
“The mining industry is the major industrial project of the Coalition Avenir Québec. The James Bay equivalent of Robert Bourassa. But the population is kept away”, he laments
“Citizens hear the sound of drills and trucks very close to their property and wonder if they should sell before its value drops,” explains to the Journal > David Pharand, the mayor of Duhamel, in the Outaouais.
When they contact the MERN, they receive answers that do not convince them. “The government tells us that barely 1% of claims become mines and that projects will not go ahead without social acceptability. However, I can tell you that here there is no social acceptability!”
Do you have a scoop for us?
Do you have something to share with us about this story?
Do you have a scoop that our readers might be interested in?
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128