First Nations and Quebecers call for moratorium on uranium mines

Quebec citizens and First Nations groups called on the provincial government to implement a moratorium on uranium mines in the province Monday.

The Coalition for Better Mining in Quebec (Coalition pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine) also called on the province to act on its promise to hold a generic environmental evaluation.

A coalition representative said Quebec must follow the examples of other provinces — like British Columbia and Nova Scotia — which shut the door on uranium mining for health, security and environmental reasons.

Many communities are declaring their opposition, like the Cree Nation of Mistissini (James Bay/Eeyou Istchee) in northern Quebec.

"As protectors of the largest fresh water lake in Quebec, Lake Mistassini, we strongly oppose any uranium development," said Chief Richard Shecapio in a written statement.

"It goes against our way of life and our beliefs. As opposed to other forms of tailings, such as that from the Stornoway mine also on our territory, waste from this type of mine stays radioactive for thousands of years, and that is socially unacceptable."

The coalition's announcement follows similar initiatives by others  in the province — more than 300 town councils have adopted resolutions to oppose uranium mining.

The provincial government pledged to hold an independent inquiry and a recent marketing survey showed 78% of residents are in favour of a broad, independent impact assessment on uranium mining before any projects are approved.

Others supporting the coalition's demand include the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Movement to get nuclear out of Quebec (Mouvement Sortons le Quebec du nucleaire), the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Physicians for Global Survival, Nature Quebec, the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace.

A 2009 map of hot sectors for uranium exploration in Quebec. Newly identified regions for exploration (red), known areas with uranium potential (purple), active mining titles (orange), mining titles in demand (green).

Hot sectors for mining in Quebec

Images: Government of Quebec