Canada: Matoush Uranium Project Should be Rejected
Matoush Uranium Project Should be Rejected say MiningWatch, Cree Nation of Mistissini and Others
24 November 2010
Mistissini Cree Nation - The message was clear - reject Strateco Resources' proposal for an advanced uranium exploration project at its Matoush site In the Otish Mountains.
The message came from Mistissini Chief Richard Shecapio, from MiningWatch Canada, from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, from Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and from individuals living in Mistissini and from southern Québec who traveled here for the first of two public hearings on the proposed project.
The first to present was Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. Mr. Hart highlighted a number of fundamental weaknesses in the proponents justification and impact assessment for the project giving examples of several assertions made by the company that were not backed up by evidence. Two of the most serious flaws, in Hart's view, were the failure to address how the 2.4 km underground ramp would interact with groundwater and the failure to provide information about the mine Strateco hopes the advanced exploration project will lead to. He quoted information from an April 2010 document, not included in the environmental impact statement, that 2-million tonnes of tailings would be dumped into two nearby lakes. "These are the kinds of issues we should be discussing now" said Hart.
Gordon Edwards from the Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility reviewed aspects of the project documents for MiningWatch. He pointed to the companies failure to provide information on basic aspects of radiation and its hazards while identifying important errors in the calculation of the concentrations of radioactive materials in the rocks from the project site.
In his address, Chief Shecapio was critical of Strateco for their failure to provide adequate information, answer the community's questions and to gain their trust. He expressed his community's concern over the potential for lasting impacts to wildlife and about the proximity of the project to a newly formed national park. The lack of care taken in developing their impact statement made him question how careful the company would be in implementing the project. He also stated that the mining of uranium would go against fundamental values of the Cree.
Thomas Coon, a Cree elder made an eloquent and passionate speech comparing the feeling in the room to the feeling in the community when it was faced with massive hydro-electric developments in their territory. He described it as: "the feeling of fear, the feeling of threat, the feeling of uncertainty that something is going to happen to our land, the land that we love."
Of the 10 presentations made to the panel tonight, none were supportive of the project. A second hearing is planned for the Town of Chibougamau on Thursday.
For Additional Information:
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
cell: (613) 614-9937
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) Supports Mistissini's Position on the Matoush Project
25 November 2010
NEMASKA, Eeyou Istchee - The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) wishes to acknowledge and provide full support to the Cree Nation of Mistissini's decision to reject a proposal for a uranium exploration mine within their territory.
Earlier today, Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come expressed his thoughts about Mistissini's rejection of the Matoush Proposal:
"Being from Mistissini myself, I know the community's decision was not taken lightly. It took several years of fact finding and soul searching. Decisions of this nature are especially difficult for First Nations, particularly at a time when we are seeking out development proposals to address very real employment challenges. The Cree Nation as a whole remains open to mining development opportunities that are compatible with the Cree way of life. However, as Mistissini indicated, the community felt the potential impacts of this proposal far outweigh its benefits. With this in mind, the Grand Council of the Crees (of Eeyou Istchee) will respect and support Mistissini's decision."
The Grand Chief's comments are in stark contrast to previous reports in the media that incorrectly stated that the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) had previously supported the Matoush project.
For further information:
Bill Namagoose (613) 725-7024
Romeo Saganash (418) 564-1598 (French Enquiries)
Strateco Over-states Support for Uranium Project
2 December 2010
MiningWatch Canada is concerned about the statements made by junior mining company Strateco Resources claiming that recent hearings in Mistissini and Chibougamau showed it had "strong support" for its Matoush Uranium Exploration Project in the James Bay region of Quebec. The company's press release does not accurately reflect the significant opposition it faces from the Cree and stakeholders, nor the resulting risks to approval and further advancement of this project.
At Mistissini, none of the 10 presenters were supportive of the project, and the estimated 300 people in attendance clapped and cheered those who spoke against it. Most notably, Chief Richard Shecapio unequivocally stated the community's rejection of the project and commented that it went against some of the fundamental values of the Cree people. The Grand Council of the Cree has since come out with a statement supporting the Mistissini Cree and their rejection of the project.
In Chibougamau, there were approximately 50 people present. Here the Mayors of Chibougamau and Chapais, on behalf of the Regional Conference of Elected Officials spoke in favour of the project, as did two individuals from Chibougamau.
A resident of Chapais expressed a variety of concerns about the project and commented that the information provided to local people was one-sided and lacked critical views on uranium mining and the nuclear industry. Given the lack of transparency and dialogue about the project she expressed frustration about the position that the mayors were taking. Three other presenters representing regional and Quebec-wide organizations spoke against the project.
A representative of the Cree family on whose trap line the project is located, and who has been employed by Strateco, expressed his support for the project. Responding to a question from a review panel member he admitted that he and his family had not been informed of the risks of uranium mining and was not sure if he would continue to eat food harvested from the area around the project if a mine went ahead.
"To make this statement of strong support for their project, you have to wonder if they were at the same hearings with the rest of us! Not only is there significant opposition to this project but there are also serious flaws in the environmental studies provided by Strateco. With everything that's in front of them, I don't see how the review committees could recommend approval." commented Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada.
The committees tasked with the review process, mandated by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement will consider the comments they receive through the hearings, as well as any written submissions. They also have to review the quality of the information provided in the environmental impact statement submitted by the company. During the hearing process, presenters from MiningWatch, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the Cree Regional Health Authority, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and the Quebec Network of Environmental Organizations highlighted a number of significant deficiencies in the environmental impact statement.
For more information contact Ramsey Hart, 613-614-9937, ramsey(at)miningwatch.ca