Future of Quebec uranium mining industry remains in limbo
Report indicates moratorium may remain, but leaves significant uncertainty
MONTREAL, Que—The Quebec Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, or BAPE, report has concluded that “it would be counterindicated, [or ill-advised] in the present context, to allow uranium mining operations in Québec.”
The report was first requested more than two years ago after Quebec imposed a moratorium on uranium mining, and was to provide legislators with an analysis of the environmental impact and social acceptance of the industry. The public inquiry commenced last May, and the report was made available July 17.
While the report’s initial conclusion indicates the province’s moratorium on new permits for exploration or mining will remain, it is not wholly conclusive. The report noted that even if the Quebec government were to suspect uranium mining temporarily or permanently, “such a decision should not be made in haste, so as to minimize its cost.” It also laid out a safety framework for the province to follow if it chose to open the door to uranium mining. So, while the report clearly states reopening Quebec to uranium miners at this point is non advised, it does not conclude that the industry should be barred either.
In response, the Canadian Nuclear Association said it looks forward to working with the Quebec Government as it studies the benefits and risks posed by uranium mining.
“We appreciate that the Quebec Government is keeping an open mind on this issue, particularly as it works with all other provinces to develop a clean energy strategy for Canada,” CNA President , John Barrett said in a July 17 statement.
The association added that it is currently reviewing the report. It also outlined the role nuclear plays in Canada’s energy market as well as the fact that Canada’s nuclear mining industry is the largest industrial employer of Canada’s Aboriginal People.
Meanwhile, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador welcomed the BAPE report, commenting that it supports their anti-uranium mining position.
“The AFNQL declares a permanent moratorium on the development of the uranium and rare earth sector on all the territories of First Nations in Quebec and invites the provincial government to do the same,” the organization said.
The report will be reviewed by legislators before any action on Quebec’s moratorium is undertaken.