Offensive by 21 municipalities against mining in the Outaouais

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Offensive de 21&nbsp ;municipalities against mining in the Outaouais

The poster campaign of the Regroupement de protection des lacs de la Petite-Nation in Lac-des-Plages

About twenty municipalities of the MRC of Papineau, in Outaouais, are launching a poster campaign to oppose graphite mining projects on their territory.

The Regroupement de protection des lacs de la Petite-Nation (RPLPN) distributed 50 posters to its municipalities, to send the message that each of them is incompatible [with] mining activity.

In an interview with Radio-Canada, the spokesperson for the Regroupement, Louis St-Hilaire, denounces a wild west and a gold rush in Papineau, a region rich in graphite, an essential mineral for the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles.

Louis St-Hilaire is wearing- word of the Petite-Nation Lakes Protection Group.

The exploitation of this ore is done through very large open pit mines which have a major impact on the environment, the territory and those who live there. The risks of ''lasting destruction'' are numerous, writes the spokesperson in a press release published on Monday.

The La Loutre project aims to extract 100,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per year on land located 5 km east of east of Duhamel and 30 km southwest of Mont-Tremblant.

The company leading the project, Lomiko Metals, is currently conducting basic exploration studies in the area.

The land explored by the mining company is located 5 km from Duhamel, between several inhabited lakes.

Elected officials from the region have added their voices to that of the Regroupement for this poster campaign.

This is the case of the prefect of the MRC de Papineau, Benoît Lauzon. Under the current government rules, our MRC is incompatible [with] mining activity, writes the prefect in the RPLPN press release.

In an interview, he says he wants to defend citizens, whether they live in urban or rural areas. [Under current laws,] we are able to protect our urban perimeters well. On the other hand, we are not able to properly protect vacationers, our lakes, our rivers, our waterways. These are not the same rules, explains the prefect.

The mayor of Duhamel, David Pharand, is also worried about the repercussions of the project on his municipality. For the moment, we are not listening to the government and we are afraid of becoming a sacrificed region, he underlines.

He asks Quebec to grant more decision-making power to the MRCs. We want to see the establishment of mining activity on our territory, but we would like to have our say, to know where we will place them to avoid any conflict of use with other activities. regions, adds the mayor.

Several posters like this one have been installed in municipalities of the MRC of Papineau.

The mayor of Lac-des-Plages, Richard Jean, is worried about the environmental effects of these mining projects.

We don't get a lot of attention from the government. It's a question of big money, deplores the chosen one. The decision will depend on the [government], if we go towards the economy or if we go towards the protection of the environment. It's them who will decide, we don't have much to say.

Mr. Jean hopes that this issue will be part of the discussions during the next provincial election this fall.

Lomiko Metals says it is at a very early stage in its plans and years away from construction.

We believe in creating a net positive impact on the community and in our engagement with the community as the operator of choice in the region, the company wrote in a statement sent to Radio-Canada. We all have a role to play in building a climate success strategy for Quebec and Canada, and Lomiko wants to reach out to concerned members of the community.

She invites the community to contact her by email to ask her questions directly.

Lomiko Metals also encourages the public to submit their comments by September 15 to the working document of the federal government to release its Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy.

Papineau is a very, very rich place with waterways. And protection is not far from anywhere, explains Mr. St-Hilaire.

The spokesperson believes that very few rules protect the territory of Papineau. It's practically the wild west, the application of the Mining Act, which dates back more than 150 years.

In December, the Regroupement filed a brief asking for the regulations of the Mining Act to be amended. This is still the group's wish today.

The Regroupement says it met with the minister responsible for the Outaouais region and deputy for Papineau, Mathieu Lacombe, as well as the minister of natural resources, Jonatan Julien, and the minister of the economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.

Beyond listening, there is no answer. What we feel is that there is no will to change anything, adds Mr. St-Hilaire.

According to professor of natural resources law at Laval University Christophe Krolik, graphite and lithium are increasingly crucial for Quebec, in the midst of the energy transition.

A balance must be found between making this transition so that it is beneficial for Quebec, but also hearing and reconciling the interests of the people who live around the mine, he explains.

The professor adds that under the current regulations, the municipalities' room for maneuver is quite limited. During the exploration stage, their power is limited to obtaining information.

While the Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for issuing claims, or exploration titles, the MRCs want to have their say.

Lomiko Metals indicates on its website that it met with the officials of the MRC last May.

With information from Claudine Richard-Beaudoin, Nelly Albérola, Rebecca Kwan and Catherine Morasse

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