An ongoing dispute that's pitched the James Bay Cree Nation and the Quebec government against a uranium company appears to be nearing its final chapter as the company attempts to launch a lawsuit solely against the government.
On December 11, Strateco Resources (TSX: RSC) issued a press release announcing that it is suing the Quebec government for $190 million in damages for the loss of its investment in the Matoush project. The release states the company invested an average of $20 million per year in the project from 2006 to 2012, and notes that the government provided "lack of social acceptability" as a reason for stalling the project — a vague statement that according to the company is not a concept defined in Quebec law. Uranium risks concern Cree The fight began in 2008, when Strateco first held hearings for its Matoush uranium project near the community of Mistissini. The mine, which has an indicated resource of 586,000 tonnes with an average grade of 0.95 percent U3O8 containing 12.33 million pounds of U3O8, was to be located 210 kilometers north of Mistissini. Six years on and the project has stalled as the Quebec government sided with the Cree Nation in November 2013 to decline authorization of the project. "I think the whole question here is of social responsibility," said Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, who lives in Mistissini and has helped lead the fight against the project. He was quick to point out the Cree are not against mining — they have created a thorough mining policy for companies looking to work in the area — and have participated in previous mining projects, such as the Troilus gold and copper mine. Coon Come said the community's concerns rest solely on the long-term impacts of uranium mining in the region. "Risks are inherent in uranium exploration activities, and we felt they are incompatible with our stewardship responsibility," he said. "My people are still hunters, they're still fishermen, we live off the land. Uranium waste that will be left behind will be radioactive and dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years [and it] poses an unacceptable burden for future generations."