MAC: Mines and Communities

Canada Uranium update

Published by MAC on 2007-10-30

Canada Uranium update

30th October 2007

The Algonquin First Nations have ended a month long blockade at a proposed uranium mine site near Sharbot Lake, Ontario, as the Ontario provincial government agreed to 12 weeks of mediation in search of a solution. The protesters are maintaining a presence at the site but will allow Frontenac onto the land, so long as it does not drill. * Meanwhile, a grandmother and long time environmentalist protesting the proposed mine, Donna Dillman, marks the fourth week of a hunger strike (started on October 8th), continuing to call .for a moratorium on uranium mining.

Further north, the Canadian government has upheld a recommendation by environmental regulator, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, to block Ur-Energy's uranium exploration on the Upper Thelon area east of Great Slave Lake. However, the company doesn't appear to be giving up the fight - dubbing it a mere setback.

* A video on the uranium exploration protests in North Frontenac may be found on you-tube:

Responsibility for the grandchildren

From Mike Nickerson

31st October 2007

As Donna moves through the fourth week of her hunger strike, (started October 8th) some of us are starting to worry. What of Donna's four children and three grandchildren? Does she not sense the tremendous loss they would feel if there is no progress toward a moratorium on uranium mining and their mother/grandmother comes to harm?

For thirty years Donna has looked out for things that might hurt her off-spring. Saying NO to uranium mining is more of the same. The danger she sees in uranium poses a far greater risk than falling off a fence or playing with sharp knives. It is a threat to her children and grandchildren and, is an example of what threatens all children and grandchildren. I am moved to tears as I read some of the letters of admiration and gratitude that are flowing in, thanking Donna for making her stand.

Letters supporting Donna's call for a moratorium on uranium mining can be sent to:

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Main Legislative Building
Room 281, Queens Park
Toronto, ON, Canada
M7A 1A1

Letters from far and near will help.

It would indeed be sad if this one grandmother came to grief. As her husband, I assure you, that ever since the idea of a hunger strike came up, I have been apprehensive. Donna's youngest daughter, soon to be 18, states another perspective. She says that her mom is "awesome." "She's making history."

Indeed these are historic times. For the first time since fire was discovered, humankind is sensing that there may not always be more energy to power ever greater volumes of activity. Extraordinary efforts are being taken to gather energy from the frozen Arctic, deep at sea and by means of war. Energy is even being sought from uranium, with all its hazards.

The fossil fuel reserves, that we are using up, were gathered from the Sun over a period of 600 million years. Compared to this resource, the energy available from uranium is inconsequential. In their latest annual report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a pro-nuclear organization, predicted that, even with today's renewed interest in building new reactors, nuclear's share of the world's energy supplies may actually drop between now and 2030; hardly a solution to the Climate Change crisis.

While those with money to make swear to the safety of nuclear power, every step of the process has documented problems: prospecting, mining, transportation, processing, power generation, waste storage and bombs all have routine emissions of radiation, small and large accidents, and occasional catastrophes.

Life has always lived from the Sun. In the long-term, humans are no exception. We have a responsibility to the future to re-learn how. Nuclear energy can only postpone, by a few decades, the absolute need to meet that responsibility. If we go down the nuclear path, the grandchildren will inherit the responsibility we would be evading. If we leave it to them, they would have far less fossil energy to work with and they would have the additional problem of many radioactive areas that would remain hazardous for thousands of generations.

Are we willing to acknowledge planetary limits? Better to do so, before we make massive investments in nuclear. Think of how far those billions of dollars would go toward harnessing the sun and the wind, increasing efficiency, and learning how to tap our lives for maximum enjoyment, rather than draining energy reserves to consume and waste.

Join Donna's call for a public discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of mining uranium:

Please write to:

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Main Legislative Building
Room 281, Queens Park
Toronto, ON, M7A 1A1
Phone calls also work.
(613) 736-9573 his constituency office in Ottawa
(416) 325-1941 at Queen's Park

Email is better than nothing:

Ask him to start an open process to consider the pros and cons of a uranium mining moratorium. A personal, signed letter, asking for a response carries the most weight. CC. your letter to the national and local media.

The word is getting out. CBC's "The National" carried the story yielding residual interest across the country. Contact your local media. Tell them that you want them to carry the story. Write a letter to the editor of the local paper asking for an inquiry into the pros and cons of a moratorium on uranium mining. Tell them that they can find background information and updates at the web site of the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (

There are numerous additional places you can send notes to. They are laid out with "mail to" links at

Go to "How You Can Help" and click on "Letter Writing."


Or ask me to forward the list to you.

On the "Letter Writing" page, there are convenient links to various newspapers, radio and television stations, as well as contact information for the Cabinet Ministers who are responsible for various aspects of this issue. If you only have time for one letter, make it signed letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty. No postage is necessary to mail to his Queens Park address.

I have been asked numerous times, "What are the chances of winning this?" My reply is that if you end up writing a letter or making a phone call, the chances are good. If you cannot find the time to do so, the chances decrease.

Please help bring Gramma home.

Yours, Mike Nickerson

When writing a letter to the government you can include some or all of the following points

* Call for an inquiry to look at establishing a moratorium on uranium mining.

* Explain that the proposed mine is at the headwaters of the Mississippi River watershed in Eastern Ontario, which provides drinking water to tens of thousands of people and is used for recreation and tourism upstream from the Nation's Capital.

* Explain that the proposed mine is in Algonquin territory, which was never surrendered or sold to the crown. Algonquin title and jurisdiction remains intact and prohibits mining activities, without Algonquin consent.

* Explain that time has shown that there has never been a "safe" uranium mine in the history of the industry.

* Ask for a public inquiry as to how the government granted permits for exploration of uranium in an environmentally sensitive and highly populated area.

Ur-Energy sees Thelon uranium decision as 'a delay'

CBC News

29th October 2007

The head of a junior mining company whose bid to explore for uranium in the Northwest Territories was recently rejected by Ottawa believes the decision is just a setback for the project.

Ur-Energy Inc. president Bill Boberg told CBC News that he understands why Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl accepted an environmental impact review board's recommendation to reject his company's application to explore for uranium in the Upper Thelon basin.

"We're viewing it at this point in time as a delay. We do feel that eventually we should be able to properly move on our claims and to explore our claims, particularly since they have been defined as legally valid mining claims," Boberg said Monday.

"It's just a matter of making the determination as to when we can actually do that and what we need to do to get to that point."

At the same time, Boberg said the decision sends an unfortunate message to the mining industry that the Northwest Territories is not a friendly place.

Boberg said he plans to sit down with company stakeholders to determine the best way to move forward with the Upper Thelon basin project. Ur-Energy has headquarters in Colorado and Ontario.

Last week, Strahl announced that he accepted the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board's controversial decision to reject Ur-Energy's application to conduct an exploratory drill near the basin, in the territory's eastern region.

In May, the board ruled such development would have an unacceptable cultural and spiritual impact on the area's Lutselk'e Dene people, who describe the area as "the place where God began."

Although Strahl turned down Ur-Energy's application, he asked his department to come up with a plan that could allow development in some areas of the basin. That plan is due by the end of November.

Federal minister upholds contested decision to block arctic uranium exploration

The Canadian Press

25th October 2007

OTTAWA - The federal cabinet has upheld a recommendation by a northern environmental regulator that the mining industry fears could sterilize a large and potentially rich chunk of the Northwest Territories to future development and cripple the ability of prospectors to look for new deposits.

In a letter to the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board this week, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said he agreed with its recommendation to block Ur-Energy's (TSX:URE) uranium exploration program on the Upper Thelon area east of Great Slave Lake.

"The responsible ministers have agreed to adopt the recommendation of the review board," Strahl wrote.

Last May, the board shocked the mining industry when it denied Ur-Energy's plan to drill up to 20 holes near the Thelon River because it threatens the spiritual and cultural well-being of the area's Akaitcho Dene.

"If implemented, the recommendation of the review board would effectively terminate mineral exploration in an important part of the N.W.T.," three industry leaders wrote to then-minister Jim Prentice after the original decision.

"This would have a very detrimental effect on the investment climate of (the) N.W.T. and the North in general."

The letter was signed by Mike Vaydik of the N.W.T. Chamber of Mines, Gordon Peeling of the Mining Association of Canada and Tony Andrews of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

Individual companies working in the North also registered strong protests.

"The rationale behind the board's recommendation is such that it appears likely that no mineral exploration activities within the southeast N.W.T. will be possible," wrote Bayswater Uranium president George Leary, one of several mining CEOs who wrote to protest the board's recommendation.

Miners claimed that the board had created a de facto national park without any of the normal consultations.

However, Strahl's decision promised his department would come up with a plan for long-term land-use planning for the area by the end of November.

"It would be an action plan for developing the resources in the area," said Carolyn Relf, the department's director of minerals and petroleum development.

Relf said much work needs to be done to locate the culturally important areas and delineate the valuable ore deposits.

"There has to be some give and take," she said.

Relf added Strahl has also promised renewed efforts to settle the Akaitcho land claim.

That's the key, said Pierre Gratton of the Mining Association of Canada.

"The federal government really has to get moving on this land claim," he said.

Miners also have to work harder to understand the cultural ties aboriginals feel towards their traditional lands, said Gratton.

The Thelon Basin is considered one of the earth's last pristine wildernesses.

Residents from the community of Lutsel K'e described the area as "the place where God began" and "the heart and soul of the Dene."

However, the area drained by the Thelon River, which flows from the N.W.T. into Nunavut, has been the subject of an intense staking rush.

Dozens of companies are prodding the tundra for uranium after prices for the silvery metal grew from $7 a pound a few years ago to over $100 now. They have registered hundreds of prospecting permits, claims and mineral leases - 1,000 such dispositions on the N.W.T. side alone.

The area is also subject to an agreement between Ottawa and the Akaitcho Dene not to make any decisions on the land for five years pending the land-claim settlement. That interim land withdrawal is currently awaiting cabinet approval.

As well, part of the region has been singled out by Environment Minister John Baird for the creation of East Arm National Park near the east arm of Great Slave Lake.

Protesters end blockade

Bill Curry, Toronto Globe and Mail

20th October 2007

Aboriginal protesters and their supporters have agreed to end their blockade of a uranium mining site north of Kingston.

Robert Lovelace, who is of Algonquin descent and is a spokesman for the group, said the move is a show of good faith after the Ontario government's agreement to 12 weeks of mediation in search of a solution. "The direct action was important and I think very successful," Mr. Lovelace said yesterday of the protest, which began in early summer.

The Algonquins, most of whom are not status Indians under the Indian Act, have been blocking a uranium-exploration company called Frontenac Ventures from accessing land the company says it purchased legally.

The protesters will maintain a presence at the site, but will allow Frontenac on the land - providing there is no drilling.

The 12 weeks of talks will include two area Algonquin communities, the company and the province. The federal government has also been invited to attend.

The Algonquins argue that because they have never signed a treaty with the Crown, they have never surrendered their traditional lands. Those lands include the watershed of the Ottawa River, taking in the entire capital region.

Residents who live near the site - which is about 60 minutes north of Kingston, near Sharbot Lake, Ont. - have joined the blockade to stop any possibility of a uranium mine in the area.

In August, Mr. Justice Gordon Thomson of the Ontario Superior Court authorized police to arrest the demonstrators but the OPP has not acted on that injunction.

Ontario Algonquins suspend uranium site occupation

CBC News

19th October 2007

Two First Nations communities have temporarily left a prospective uranium mining site in eastern Ontario they have occupied since June after reaching an agreement with the Ontario government to begin mediation talks.

Members of the Shabot Obaadjiwan and Ardoch Algonquin First Nations were trying to block a mining exploration company, Frontenac Ventures, from doing test drilling for uranium at the site near Sharbot Lake, about 60 kilometres north of Kingston.

The Algonquins say the site is on their land and they fear that uranium drilling could lead to environmental contamination.

Robert Lovelace, retired chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said Friday that Ontario has agreed to 12 weeks of mediation, and the Algonquins are eager to get going.

The Algonquins had offered to temporarily suspend occupation of the site if the province were to agree to mediation under certain conditions.

Consequently, on Friday their protest camp at the site was unoccupied and about 100 people from the two First Nations were instead gathered along the road outside its closed gate.

The Algonquins are allowing Frontenac Ventures to do minor work at the site, but will not allow them to do any drilling.


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