Canadian First Nations arrive in Montreal after 850km march against uranium mining in Quebec

Canadian First Nations arrive in Montreal after 850km march against uranium mining in Quebec

A group of young members of the James Bay Cree Nation reached Montreal, their final destination, after completing an 850-km march to protest against uranium exploration and mining in Quebec.

Upon arrival the demonstrators, reports CBC, headed to the province’s environmental protection watchdog, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), as they body is holding the last of a series of public hearings on uranium exploration.

The march underlined the Crees’ opposition to uranium exploration and mining, which they say would invade their territory, pollute the environment and threaten their traditional way of life.

The suspension of uranium mining in the province came in effect in April last year, making Quebec the third Canadian jurisdiction, after Nova Scotia and British Columbia, to halt exploration and development of these kinds of mines.

Fleeing Quebec

Mining investments in Quebec have steadily dropped in the last few years, plunging about 37% in 2013 from a record the year before. The jurisdiction has also fallen in the famous index of mining destinations put together every year by the Fraser Institute, an independent think-tank: From being the No.1 desired place to invest in mining from 2007 to 2010, it barely reached the 11th place out of 96 jurisdictions last year.

Experts think the uranium moratorium sped up the fall and companies with interest in the area are a testimony of that. Strateco (TSE:RSC), based in Boucherville, has been waiting for years for a certificate of authorization from Quebec’s environment department to begin exploration work at its Matoush site in the Otish Mountains, about 275 kilometres north of Chibougamau.

Now the junior miner is seeking about $190 million in compensation from Quebec for the investments it made in a uranium project before the province blocked it last year from moving to the next stage.