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Legal opinion on the Bloom Lake mine: Quebec has the power to prevent the destruction of the lakes

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Montreal, November 17, 2020 As the hearings of the Office of public hearings on the environment (BAPE) relating to the Lac Bloom mine expansion project, the organizations Emergency Water, Fondation Rivières and Quebec better look reveal a new study and one judicial advice which clearly demonstrate that Quebec has the legal power to refuse to transform the 8 lakes targeted by Champion Iron into mining waste bins.

Contrary to what the initiator of the project claims, the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) as well as the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MERN) have all the legal powers, under the Environmental Quality Act and the Mining Act, to prohibit the destruction of natural environments and require alternative solutions.

Indeed, the Quebec Mining Act in its preamble recalls “that it is necessary to ensure environmentally friendly mineral development” while article 17 specifies that mining development must be carried out  “from a sustainable development perspective”. As such “the principle of optimal use of mineral resources does not take precedence over environmental protection”, as the mining promoter seems to claim.

These legal bases allow Me Marc Bishai of the firm Bélanger Avocats Inc., to support, in an official notice, that the desire to destroy lakes and other wet and water environments announced by the mining company constitutes “reasonable cause” for the government of Quebec to refuse the project, to force its modification or “to impose significant measures” aimed at protecting the environment.

A study carried out by Dr. Steve H. Emerman of Malach Consulting also concludes that it would be technically and economically possible for the proponent to return part of the mining tailings to the excavated pits to avoid the permanent and irreversible destruction of lakes and aquatic ecosystems, while reducing the risk of mining spills caused by dyke failures. Still according to the author, the promoter's double assertion that there are additional potentially exploitable resources and that 100% of the pit must be left open for this purpose is contradicted by current studies and contravenes the regulatory standards of the securities authorities. .

Consequently, Québec Meilleur Mine, Eau Secours and Fondation Rivières are asking the Quebec government to require Champion Iron to submit new technical, financial and environmental studies that meet the regulatory standards of the securities authorities, including cost-benefit analyzes of various scenarios. partial backfilling of the pits to avoid the destruction of the lakes. The organizations also want Quebec to clarify its powers by prohibiting, in a regulation, the destruction of lakes and rivers for the storage of mining residues in Quebec. They will present their briefs to the BAPE this week.

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For informations :

André Bélanger, Fondation Rivières, c. 514 295-1194
Ugo Lapointe, Québec Meilleur Mine and MiningWatch Canada, c. 514 708-0134
Rébecca Pétrin, Eau Secours, c. 514 246-9075

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