Quebec becomes third province to impose uranium moratorium

Quebec became the third Canadian province, after Nova Scotia and British Columbia, to establish a moratorium on uranium development.

Environment minister Yves-Francois Blanchet announced last Thursday no permits for exploration or mining will be issued until an independent study on the environmental impact and social acceptance of extracting uranium has been completed.

The minister delegated authority on uranium development issues to the province's office of public hearings on the environment (BAPE), which has the power to recommend all possible scenarios — from a permanent uranium ban to determining safe ways to develop resources of this radioactive metal.

Thus, unlike Nova Scotia and BC, the uranium moratorium in Quebec looks temporary at the moment as it is conditional to BAPE’s approval in every particular case.

Immediately after the moratorium was announced, the share price of Canadian-based Strateco Resources Inc. (TSE: RSC), which is developing the Matoush uranium deposit in Quebec, slumped by 67%.

Strateco Resources share price

Guy Hebert, Strateco's chief executive officer, denounced the moratorium in a written statement.

"Without prior notice and for no good reason, neither rational nor scientific, the government has changed the rules. The minister's attitude is both irresponsible and unprecedented," he said.

Strateco said it has invested more than $120 million in its prospective Matoush project. All required approvals from the provincial review committee, the federal review committee, the federal environment minister and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have been obtained after a rigorous review process and a series of public hearings.

Matoush is considered one of the highest-grade uranium projects in the world and is located about 275 km from the town of Chibougamau in central Quebec.

Image: Mariannli, Creative Commons via Flickr