MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Residents wary of uranium prospecting in N.B. village

Published by MAC on 2007-07-25

Residents wary of uranium prospecting in N.B. village

The public is being left out of discussions and questions remain unanswered, says Elgin resident

By KATE WRIGHT, Yhe Daily Gleaner

25th July 2007

OTTAWA - Residents of a New Brunswick village with potential for a major uranium development say they are unsure a mine will translate into positive returns for the region.

Deposits of copper and possibly uranium are indicated beneath the Village of Elgin, but some landowners are worried that their peaceful way of life will be permanently disturbed by development.

Elgin is located north of Fundy National Park.

Debbie Leaman, an employee at the village's post office, said many residents are upset that prospectors have already begun claiming backyards to be explored in the coming months.

"I think there will be opposition when the trucks start rolling," she said. "People are concerned about their property values."

Leaman said the community has largely been left out of the uranium discussion and many residents have questions that have gone unanswered.

"There's never been a community meeting, there's really been nothing on uranium. I don't even know if I know the name of (the) company," she said.

"Anything I've heard has been negative. It's not, 'Oh wow, we're getting a uranium mine!"

The concern in Elgin follows an announcement by Triple Uranium Resources of Newfoundland that uranium prospecting has begun in Cambridge-Narrows. Some residents fear mining will destroy the Canaan Washademoak watershed.

Thanks to skyrocketing demand for uranium, prospectors have begun searching for it throughout New Brunswick, including several sites in the southern part of the province.

Uranium prices have climbed from US$10 a pound to US$136 a pound by mid-June, spurring the sharp rise in claims.

So far, more than 12,000 claims have been staked in 2007, an estimated two-thirds of which are for uranium.

Minister of Natural Resources Donald Arsenault said Tuesday that the province needs to act on the possibility of new developments to further its self-sufficiency agenda.

He said government is attacking the prospect of the uranium mine "aggressively" as it would help to repatriate New Brunswickers searching for work and good wages.

"We're a province rich in resources and we have a major role to play in creating those opportunities," he said.

"Companies won't just come knocking on doors -- we have to be aggressive."

In June, New Brunswick signed a $4-million deal with CVRD Inco Ltd., giving the Canadian uranium giant exclusive five-year prospecting rights on a 136,000-hectare area between Sussex and Moncton.

Inco is one of several companies searching for the mineral in New Brunswick.

But controversy erupted in June when Moncton residents objected to prospecting in the area, fearing a potential mine could contaminate the watershed.

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