MAC: Mines and Communities

Canadian First Nations take on three new mining proposals

Published by MAC on 2010-06-19
Source: CBC News, statements

Struggles by Canadian First Nations, against precipitate proposals to extract iron ore and uranium from their lands, are gaining in intensity.

Meanwhile, the Mohawk Council of Quebec has come out vociferously in opposition to site a niobium project on territory to which it has title.

Editorial Note: Niobium (aka columbium) is a "rare" metal, the largest deposit of which - in the form of pyrochole - is to be found in Araxá, Brazil. This is owned by Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM), whose shareholders are the Moreira Salles Group (55%) and Molycorp Inc., a subsidiary of Unocal Corp in the USA.

Another pyrochlore mine in Brazil is owned and operated by Mineração Catalão de Goiás Ltda. On 25 October 2001, it changed its corporate name to Anglo American of South America Ltda.

The third significant deposit of pyrochlore being actively mined is the Niobec mine in Quebec, Canada, jointly owned by Cambior and Mazarin.

These three companies supply about 95% of the world's present demand of ferroniobium products, which has a nominal 60% niobium content.

Mining project in Kanesatake/Oka: Kanesatake says 'no' to any exploitation of niobium on its ancestral lands

CNW Telbec

9 June 2010

KANESATAKE, QC - The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake made public today that it categorically rejects the project of the company Niocan Inc., which plans to exploit a resource of niobium on land forming part of the Seigneury of Lake of Two-Mountains, on which Mohawks of Kanesatake have title as well as Aboriginal and treaty rights. "Our position is clear. We will never allow our land to be used without our consent and in a way that is harmful to the environment," says Grand Chief Sohenrise Paul Nicholas.

This opposition of the Mohawk Council was forwarded to the Quebec Government, which is expected to rule shortly on the request for a Certificate of Authorization made by Niocan to the Ministere du Developpement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP).

The Council of Kanesatake wishes to remind those concerned that the entire Seigneury of Lake of Two-Mountains, including the area chosen for the mining project, is currently the subject of territorial dispute. Therefore, until an agreement has been reached, the governments should impose a moratorium on any development project that could have a negative impact on the rights of Mohawks.

The Council also wishes to stress that serious concerns have been raised by numerous experts regarding the long-term health and environmental hazards that the proposed mine will create. The many pollutants, the radiation emitted by the mine, the gases, the noise, the dust and the possibility of significant impact on the natural hydrographic network could have disastrous consequences for the environment and the health of families living in the vicinity.

For all these reasons, the Mohawk Council says 'no' to Niocan's project.

"The Mohawks of Kanesatake have never consented to this project, have never been seriously consulted and continue to strongly oppose it," indicates Grand Chief Nicholas.

For further information: Eric Cardinal, (450) 638-5159, Cell: (514) 258-2315, eric(at) CO: MOHAWK COUNCIL OF KANESATAKE ST: Quebec

Mining projects in Schefferville: Newfoundland and Labrador government undermining Innu rights

CNW Telbec

9 June 2010

MATIMEKUSH-LAC JOHN, QC - The Innu communities of Matimekush-Lac John and of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, supported by the member communities of the Innu Strategic Alliance, are undertaking concrete actions to have their rights respected and to make the governments understand that no mining development is to take place on the territory without prior consent of the Innu people. Legal recourse is also among the measures considered by the Innu to have their rights respected and to emphasize that any and all development requires their prior consent. Moreover, a letter of demand was sent on May 21, 2010 by Burchells, LLP to the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and to Labrador Iron Mines Ltd. (LIM), to express the opposition of the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam and the family of Agnès McKenzie to the mining project planned by LIM near Schefferville and the imminence of legal proceedings.

The chiefs of Matimekush-Lac John and Uashat mak Mani-Utenam both reaffirmed Innu ownership of the natural resources of their traditional land. "We have never ceded, abandoned or renounced our Aboriginal rights or our Aboriginal title. The governments therefore have the constitutional obligation to consult us and to accommodate our rights and interests," affirmed the Chiefs of the Innu Strategic Alliance in a joint statement.

Given the failure of the governments to protect the Innu's fundamental rights, the Innu Strategic Alliance chiefs, Jean-Charles Piétacho (Ekuanitshit), Georges-Ernest Grégoire (Uashat mak Mani-Utenam), Réal McKenzie (Matimekush-Lac John), and George.-C.S. Bâcon (Unamen Shipu), as well as the members of their community have no other option but to set up a barricade to ensure the protection of their rights. The barricade, which will take place Friday, June 11, is perfectly legal since it is in respect of Aboriginal rights and complies with the existing Innu traditional juridical system. "We are open to constructive dialogue with the governments and the companies as long as our cultural, economic, social, environmental and spiritual aspirations are respected. We are not against all forms of development of the territory but we are against all development held without our consent," emphasized the Chiefs of the Innu Strategic Alliance.


Since time immemorial, the Innu, a semi-nomadic people, have occupied the land called Nitassinan - Innu homeland. The Innu of Matimekush-Lac John and of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam traditionally roamed about freely, particularly north of the 50th parallel. In 1927, a border between Quebec and Labrador was imposed on the Innu by the British Crown. This created an artificial division of Nitassinan, constituting a non-recognition of Aboriginal rights that had far-reaching effects. In Schefferville, mining explorations began in the 1950s, when iron ore was high in demand. To transport to ore to the processing plant and to cargo ships, the IOC (Iron Ore Company of Canada) built a railway to Schefferville, with houses, a hospital, and institutions, hence allowing more than 5,000 people to settle in Schefferville in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Nevertheless, in 1982, the Company decided to shut down its operations, de facto "closing the town." In 1989, IOC tore down nearly 300 houses, recreational and community facilities, as well as the hospital. The Innu of Matimekush Lac-John, as Schefferville residents, took charge of what remained of the town. It is thanks to the Innu of Matimekush Lac-John that the entire infrastructure of Schefferville, including an airport and the railway, vital to the needs of the mining companies, are still operational.

The Innu Strategic Alliance

The Innu Strategic Alliance brings together the Chiefs of the Innu communities of Ekuanitshit, Matimekush-Lac John, Pessamit, Uashat mak Mani-Utenam and Unamen Shipu. It represents some 12,000 people, a 70% representation of the members of the Innu Nation living in Quebec. The mandate of the Strategic Alliance is to enable the parties to defend, in a cooperative manner, their rights, common interests, and to initiate joint actions in order to achieve political, economic and judicial results.

For further information: Éric Cardinal, Cardinal Communication, (450) 638-5159, (514) 258-2315, 1-877-638-5159 

Limited funds for Nunavut uranium proposal, groups say

CBC News

10 June 2010

Groups that want a say in the environmental review of a proposed uranium mine in Nunavut say they aren't getting enough federal funding to properly review the proposal.

In a letter dated June 4, the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department said a total of $250,000 will be set aside for interveners in the Nunavut Impact Review Board's review of Areva Resources Canada Inc.'s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine, located 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake.

The $250,000 is a fraction of what local governments and groups like the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board wanted. Nine groups had requested a total of $1.5 million in intervener funding.

"The Kiggavik proposal is going to be setting a standard, and we just want to make sure that all parties have a chance to make sure that it's properly reviewed and anything that comes will be set up properly and within the proper safeguards," Ross Thompson, secretary-treasurer of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, told CBC News on Wednesday.

Thompson said if his group had received the $112,000 it wanted, it would have been able to provide information about the impacts of mine development on important caribou habitats.

Now, fighting with other groups for a share of a $250,000 pot would put all interveners at a disadvantage, Thompson said.

"We just wonder whether that amount will do justice to the proper type of review and information gathering that's needed," he said.

Jamie Kneen of Mining Watch Canada said Areva's proposal for the Kiggavik mine will present serious issues to regulators, since it would become Nunavut's first uranium mine if it is approved.

During the environmental review, interveners will review Areva's data about the impacts of the proposed mine, then provide their feedback to regulators and the general public.

But Kneen said a shortage of federal funding to help interveners will leave those groups handicapped.

"I think the real issue is to what extent the interveners are able to review that material on a technical basis, rather than just sort of forming an opinion of it?" Kneen said.

Kneen said it is common for company funds to far outweigh the funding that interveners have.

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