MAC: Mines and Communities

Canada uranium update

Published by MAC on 2008-02-08

Canada uranium update

8th February 2008

Negotiations over a proposed uranium mine on Algonquin land in Eastern Ontario have fallen apart, and the Algonquin First Nations are resuming their blockade at the proposed site.

Cameco announced earlier this week that the clean up of contaminated soil at its Port Hope, Ontario plant will take longer than expected and cost more -- in the range of $15 million to $20 million.

Uranium mining talks collapse

Aboriginal groups in land dispute now set 'to secure our territory"

Geoff Nixon, The Ottawa Citizen

7th February 2008

Negotiations over the future of Eastern Ontario lands marked for uranium mining by a private corporation have fallen apart, leaving those involved ready "to secure our territory," says a spokesman for one of the two aboriginal groups involved in the debate.

Since September, mediated talks have been ongoing between the province and two aboriginal groups, the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations communities, which oppose a plan by Frontenac Ventures Corporation to mine for uranium in the Sharbot Lake area.

Robert Lovelace, a retired chief who is acting as a negotiator for the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, told the Citizen yesterday that the talks ended earlier this week after the sides could not come to a resolution.

"The mediator called an end to the negotiations," he said. He said there are no immediate plans to resume the talks.

Since Monday, Mr. Lovelace said his people have been asking Frontenac Ventures employees not to enter their site while the mediations are not ongoing. "We're left in a situation where we simply have to secure our territory," said Mr. Lovelace, who noted that both groups have people watching over the site. He and other mining opponents will approach Ottawa City Council this morning to ask for support for a total ban on uranium mining and pros-pecting in Eastern Ontario.

The dispute over the future of the 5,000-hectare property near Clarendon Station started last summer when Frontenac Ventures began conducting surveys of the land.

In June of last year, members of the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations communities formed a "tent city" and blockade at an access point to the property on the side of Highway 509, about 12 kilometres north of Highway 7. They stayed at the entrance of the site until the mediated negotiations began last fall. Chief Doreen Davis, who is representing the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations community in the negotiations, could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday. Prior to the end of the mediation process with the province, Chief Davis had told the Citizen she believed slow, but steady progress had been made during the talks.

"I think we've progressed from the very beginning," she said last week. "We've got a long, long way to go, but I think I'm not surprised at where we are. It's about where I thought we'd be after 10-12 weeks."

Chief Davis also said that Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations people would block access to the site should the company attempt to begin drilling * [see below]. Kathy Nosich, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines -- the branch of the provincial government that had been handling the talks -- said the government was "disappointed" the two sides could not come to a resolution.

"We were very disappointed that the mediation wasn't successful," Ms. Nosich said.

"For our part, Ontario did engage in good faith in that process. And we funded that entire process, including the cost of the mediator and the legal counsel for the Shabots and the Ardochs."

Frontenac Ventures president and chief executive officer George White could not be reached for comment yesterday. His company had not been involved in the negotiations, but had been kept up to date on their progress. In a recent interview with the Citizen, Mr. White said his company had not attended the mediation process because it was too costly to take part. In addition to the end of the mediation process, there are two other ongoing legal battles that have been initiated by those involved in the dispute. Frontenac Ventures has initiated civil contempt proceedings against a number of individuals who allegedly obstructed access to the Clarendon Station site last summer.

Those accused of contempt are scheduled to appear in court later this month.

And in December, a group of North Frontenac families and Ottawa residents served the province of Ontario with notice of their intention to challenge the Attorney General of Ontario on the constitutionality of the Ontario Mining Act. Ottawa lawyer Mike Swinwood, who is representing the residents, known as the Mississippi River Watershed Settlers, said in a recent interview that the province had not yet responded to the notice it had been served on Dec. 11, 2007. The province has 60 days to respond from the date it received the notice, after which the Mississippi River Watershed Settlers are "eligible to commence action," he said. Mr. Swinwood said the purpose of the notice was to "afford the Crown the opportunity of speaking to people to determine ... whether there was any way of avoiding litigation. Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General, confirmed that the province had been served with a notice of intent on Dec. 11. The province will respond once a statement of claim is filed, he said.

Algonquins resume blockade at Sharbot Lake uranium site

CBC News

7th February 2008

Protesters from two First Nations communities have resumed blocking a prospective uranium mining site in eastern Ontario.

The Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations returned to the site near Sharbot Lake, Ont., after mediation talks with the Ontario government that began last fall broke down.

Robert Lovelace, co-chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said the protesters are standing outside the gate to the site because they are concerned the mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corp. will start test drills there, as it is legally entitled to do.

"We're monitoring the site and if Frontenac Ventures attempts to bring a drill onto the site, we'll blockade that drill," he said Wednesday.

The protesters began occupying the site in June 2007, but suspended their occupation in October 2007 after reaching an agreement with the provincial government to begin mediation talks.

Lovelace announced in January that protesters would start reoccupying the site near the end of the month, despite a court order forbidding them to do so, unless the province stopped Frontenac Ventures from doing further work there. They began their reoccupation Monday.

Neil Smitheman, a lawyer for the company, said Ontario Provincial Police are monitoring activity around the property but aren't enforcing the court order.

"This is an order of the court and the administration of justice would be brought into disrepute if it's not followed. You can't, in a free and democratic society, ignore court orders," he said.

He added that police don't seem capable of enforcing court orders in other disputes with aboriginal groups throughout the province, in places such as Deseronto and Caledonia.

"All we know is we are loath to depend upon the local police for enforcement of the judge's order," he said.

The company has brought contempt of court charges against several protesters for blocking entry to the site and the case is back in court Tuesday.

* Late news: Following publication of these two articles (above) we received the following from Chief Doreen Davis:

Clarification from Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation

Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation representatives returned to the Robertsville Site on Friday February 1, 2008, but not for the purpose of blocking entry by Frontenac Ventures (FVC). The Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation has been and will continue to be respectful of the injunction requiring us not to interfere with the work of FVC.

Although representatives of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation met with representatives from the Ardoch community at the site, we pursue our own council on this matter and are not working with Ardoch to "resecure" the site. We continue to seek consultation and negotation with Ontario and FVC. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor activities at the site as allowed under the terms of the injunction.

Chief Doreen Davis Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, published in Uranium Mews, 8 February 2008

Cameco to spend up to Can$20 million to clean up Port Hope, Ont., plant

Canadian Press

28th January 2008

Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO) said Monday a clean up of contaminated soil at its Port Hope, Ont., plant will take longer than expected and cost more.

Cameco said the estimated cost of the clean up would be between $15 million and $20 million, up from an earlier estimate of $3 million, due to an increase in the scope of work required to remediate the contaminated areas.

The company, which said Monday that it has received regulatory approval to begin the repair and upgrade work, also expects to spend $20 to $25 million on plant improvements.

Uranium hexafluoride operations have been suspended since the discovery of contaminated soil under the plant in July last year.

The company had hoped to resume production in the first quarter, but said Monday it was now targeting resuming production in the third quarter.

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