Mining Act

The exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in Quebec is still based on the “free mining” concept- a concept that dates back to the time of the gold rush and which gives excessive privileges to the mining industries. The rights of citizens are violated and the creation of protected areas in extremely difficult.

We must recognize the economic benefits for Quebec that come with mining activities. The numerous mineral resources throughout Quebec, including gold, nickel, iron and copper, act as the motors for development for several communities and it brings important economic gains for Quebec.

Furthermore, the majority of Quebec territory, more that 85%, is accessible to future mining industries and projects. The free mining concept devoted precedence of the mineral rights over any other use of the territory, as if mining activities were the best option for a territory.

CPAWS contests that the conservation of biodiversity and the creation of protected areas are forced to deal with the favouritism placed on the mining rights that are already in place. If we want to protect a site of significant ecologic importance and the mining rights are already in place for this site, guess who always wins.

Quebec has set the ambitious goal to protect 12% of its territory from now, until 2015 and to avoid mining activities in 50% of the territory outlined in Plan Nord.  In all cases, we don’t only want to protect land that industries are not interested in. CPAWS argues that a real territorial plan is needed to protect priority sites.

Coalition for better mining in Quebec!
In spring of 2008, CPAWS participated in the establishment of the “Coalition Pour que le Québec ait Meilleure MINE!”, a group of approximately twenty social and environmental organisations that have the common mission to reform the exploration and exploitation of Quebec’s mineral resources. Within the coalition, CPAWS promotes environmental issues and it denounces the obstacles created by mining industries to conserve biodiversity and to create a real network of protected areas. For more information, you can read the fact sheet “Miner le Quebec… ou le proteger?”, a publication that documents the conflicts in creating a protected area due to the mining industries and to propose a list of solutions.

Reform the Mining Act
The Mining Act must undergo a thorough reform to respect the individual rights of citizens, communities and the environment. In this regard, CPAWS actively participates in the process of revision of the Mining Act, specifically Bill 14. CPAWS denounced the weakness of this reform by recently filing a factum and participating in the parliamentary commission on Bill 14.

Uranium exploration project Matoush
Quebec does not currently have any uranium mines; however, things may change rapidly. In fact, the Matoush project, in the territory of the Cree of Mistissini and only a few kilometers from the national park Albanel- Témiscamie-Otish (ATO), may soon come into effect. CPAWS opposes to this project, which risks contaminating the waters of the magnificent Témiscamie River, located at the heart of park ATO; and will require the transportation of radioactive minerals for a distance of 64km inside the national park ATO.

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