Quebec turning hostile to mining

The Canadian province of Quebec, once considered the best place on Earth for mining investment, seems to be brushing the industry off, as a new report shows that most Quebecers disagree with current laws that give priority to firms over landowners, Aboriginal communities and municipalities.

The poll results, released Tuesday by the conservation group Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI), come on the heels of the annual global survey of mining executives published by The Fraser Institute last week.

The Fraser Institute showed the province has lost the international mining community confidence, falling out of the world's top 10 mining jurisdictions.

Now the poll by Léger Marketing Inc. for CBI indicates that most Quebecers (82% of respondents) think that mining companies should not be granted claims on private land without obtaining the consent of the landowner first, as is the currently provincial law allows.

Most locals (82%) believe that municipalities should be entitled to exclude certain sensitive areas of their territory from mining and that the rights of prospectors and mining companies should never take precedence over the rights of communities and nations (71%), municipalities (73%), and private owners (77%), as is currently the case in Quebec.

When it comes to mining royalties, 55% of the interviewees said they believe they were too low, versus 11% who found them fair and 6% who thought they are too high.

More than half of Quebecers (54%) think that between 10% and 60% of the overall value of mineral extracted in Quebec should remain in the province in forms of royalties, taxes or reinvestments. The current amount is about 4.5%.

Divided on uranium

In the poll, participants were asked their opinions on uranium mining, as most of Canada's exploration for the yellow powder takes place in the belle province.

Results indicate that 76% of all respondents are not aware of the related projects taking place in the province. However, even among the non-natives in Quebec's north, who tend to favour exploration projects, there is concern about the safety of uranium mining.

Léger polled 1,000 Quebecers in all regions and found 78% support the idea of running an independent study of the economic, environmental and social impacts of uranium developments, before uranium extraction goes ahead. The firm did a separate poll of 300 Cree and non-natives in Quebec's north and found 86% of northerners also favour such a study.

Finally, when asked whether Quebec should follow the example of British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Virginia, where moratoriums on uranium mining have been declared, 62% said they would support such a halt.

(Image: Demonstrations pro-independency from the rest of Canada in Quebec city. Archives)