Imagine if we created Bey-James in your corner of heaven. This is happening somewhat with the battery industry, which runs on minerals found in southern Quebec.
Posted on September 13
As Prime Minister Francois Legault said there would be no mining development without social acceptance, discontent in the region continued to grow. On Monday, it was the turn of the citizens of Lac-des-Plages in Outois to oppose a mining exploration project.
We understand them.
Because the drill is already at work, except they have a word to say Mining Act Above everything. As in the days of kings, this ancient law provides that the basement belongs to the state, no matter what it contains.
Anyone can buy a claim that gives them the exclusive right to explore underground in a designated area measuring 400 by 400 meters. A few clicks and a hundred bucks later, it’s done. You can go drill wherever you want!
And if you ever discover one, you’ll have the right to confiscate the inhabitants.
Until now, mining projects, concentrated in northern Quebec, have caused relatively little disturbance to the population. But the development of the battery sector, a flagship project of Coalition Avenue Quebec (CAQ), changes the situation, as the resources needed to make batteries such as graphite and lithium are available in more densely populated areas. Outois, Laurentians, Lanaudiere…
From an economic point of view, the battery sector is a dream: this new industry can bring in revenues of 18 billion a year. We cannot ignore this kind of manna, especially since it will drive our energy changes.
But if the shift to electric cars destroys our natural environment, the environment won’t win.
However, current regulations are not sufficient to ensure mining development in harmony with communities.
For several years, the Planning and Town Planning Act Allows Regional County Municipalities (RCMs) to submit a development plan to Quebec to delimit areas compatible with mining activity (TIAM).
But Quebec repeatedly rejected their plans. In Montregi, for example, Quebec refuses to protect Mont Rigod, which is absurd.
If Quebec really wants social acceptance, it must review its orientation.
To better protect holidaymakers, it should allow the MRC to ban searches within one kilometer of habitats and lakes, while the limit is only 600 meters in semi-urban areas.
Additionally, regardless of the size of the project, it would be wise to have a bureau d’audience publics sur l’environnement (BAPE). Otherwise, mining companies can easily avoid the practice by splitting their projects.
Let’s face it: real advice is the foundation of social acceptance. Because without data, without real expert opinion, we feed the very legitimate fears of the population.
Indeed, many questions arise, even for citizens who are not glued to future open pit mining.
For example, a mining operation may alter the water table and thus dry up the artesian wells of local residents. What options will be given to them?
And how are we going to manage the traffic? Are we going to provide a bypass so that the villages of the country’s roads are not destroyed by the procession of trucks?
The idea is not to block projects with a “not in my backyard” mentality, but to give a balance of power to those communities that will be caught with all the disadvantages of mining development, while Quebec, which controls the levers, only benefits.
The real recipe is teamwork.
By giving indigenous communities the right to negotiate with mining companies, it was believed that this would prevent mining development in the north of the country. But in the end the opposite happened. Aboriginal people saw it as an engine of economic development, resulting in jobs and income.
Why not take inspiration from this?