Ottawa's Critical Minerals Strategy: Mixed Reactions on the North Shore

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Ottawa’s Critical Minerals Strategy: Mixed Reactions on the North Shore

The Scully mine near Wabush, Labrador (archives)

The Government of Canada unveiled its strategy on Friday critical minerals which tends in particular to accelerate the development of projects in this sector of activity. At the first reading of this strategy, reactions are divergent on the North Shore.

The North Shore territory has a few critical mineral mining projects. These projects are primarily aimed at extracting graphite, nickel and scandium, which are among the six critical minerals found on the North Shore.

Of the five critical mineral mining projects on the North Shore, that of Lac Guéret is on hold and not in service

The Director of Industrial Development at ;ID Manicouagan, Guy Simard, believes that Canada has the potential to become a leader in the field.

This would allow the country to be less dependent on other players, such as China and Russia, he said. The sooner we will be able to develop our natural resources, to ensure that companies are supplied in shorter circuits, closer to the United States, Canada and Europe, it will be the better, he argues.

Ottawa particularly wishes to reach an agreement with the provinces and territories in order to better harmonize environmental impact studies. The federal government also wants to simplify the process of obtaining permits at all levels of government.

Guy Simard is of the opinion that the development period for mining projects is currently too long. With the help of the federal government, he says, some steps could be shortened without jeopardizing social acceptability and environmental rules.

ID Manicouagan's Director of Industrial Development, Guy Simard

The idea is not to say: we think we will be able to do a project that normally would take ten years, in three years. These are impossible things, recognizes Guy Simard.

“On the other hand, we need to simplify access to data, access to knowledge and facilitate the granting of permits. That, I think we will make the work of companies much easier. »

— Guy Simard, Director of Industrial Development at ID Manicouagan

We're heading for a wall if we continue to bulldoze mining projects without taking into account their impacts on communities that welcome them, and both in terms of the environment and the social climate, argues the lawyer and co-spokesperson for the Coalition Quebec Better Mine, Rodrigue Turgeon.

Rodrigue Turgeon, co-spokesperson for the Quebec Better Mine Coalition

He fears that the simplification of bureaucracy will lead to a relaxation of environmental rules.

What we see at work are companies that have done everything to avoid the Bureau of Public Hearing on the Environment [BAPE]. While these environmental assessments and public hearings are the only guarantees to shed light on the impacts they have on the territory and their real impact on the climate, he believes.

The Innu Council of Pessamit intends to be consulted for any development of a mining project on the Nitassinan. Councilor Jérôme Bacon St-Onge hopes to take part in discussions with Quebec and Ottawa. He doesn't want to be presented with a fait accompli.

With information from Camille Lacroix

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