After assuring the Nation and others that Mistissini was on board for Strateco Resources’ uranium exploration project in the Otish Mountains, Strateco was told the community didn’t want the project in a hearing in Mistissini held on November 23.
The main reason that Mistissini residents rejected the project was that it could negatively affect Lake Mistissini. The potential social, economic and cultural impacts would be felt for generations and affect the Cree way of life and this was a concern that was voiced over and over at the Mistissini meeting.
Ramsey Hart of Mining Watch Canada said the project had problems as Strateco’s proposal didn’t back up statements with evidence. He said two of the most serious flaws were a failure to address how the 2.4 km underground ramp would interact with groundwater and to provide information about the mine that the advanced exploration project could lead to. He quoted information from an April 2010 document, that two million tons of tailings would be dumped into two nearby lakes. This information was not included in the environmental impact statement.
The message came from Mistissini Chief Richard Shecapio, from Mining Watch Canada, from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and from individuals living in Mistissini and from southern Quebec who traveled there for the first of two public hearings on the proposed project.
Gordon Edwards from the Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, hired by Mining Watch, reviewed aspects of the project documents. He said Strateco failed to provide information on basic aspects of radiation and its hazards. He also identified errors in the calculation of the concentrations of radioactive materials at the project site.
Shecapio was critical of Strateco for its failure to provide adequate information. He said the company did not answer the community’s questions and didn’t gain their trust. He expressed his community’s concern over the potential for lasting impacts to wildlife and how close the project was to a new national park. Shecapio added that the mining of uranium would go against fundamental values of the Cree.
At the time of printing Strateco was in Chibougamau for another hearing. More on this topic in the next issue of the Nation.