Quebec Environment Minister to refuse Strateco exploration permit – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – June 26, 2013)

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TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Explorer Strateco Resources on Tuesday said Quebec Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet had served it with a notice indicating that he planned to “refuse to issue the permit for the Matoush underground exploration project” owing to “a lack of sufficient social acceptability”.

The notice gave Strateco 60 days in which to appeal the Minister’s intended refusal to issue the requested permit. The company in January filed a court order to force the Quebec government to make a decision on its exploration project in the province’s Otish Mountains.

On March 28, two months after Strateco filed the petition for mandamus, the Minister announced that no permits would be issued for uranium exploration and mining projects in Quebec until the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment, known by its French acronym Bape, had submitted its report on Quebec’s uranium industry.

The Minister specified, at the time, that the temporary moratorium, which could last for as long as 18 months or more, was applicable to Strateco. Strateco promptly reacted to what it termed an “illegal, abusive decision” taken by the Minister.

The company also said it had appeared before the Superior Court on June 13 and 14, to request a safeguard order from the end of the month to ensure the possibility of the project succeeding until the proceedings, which were scheduled for late in 2014, could be heard.

Strateco had already obtained its federal authorisations and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) permit for the Matoush advanced underground exploration programme. Since the start of the Matoush project, Quebec’s Environment Minister had issued 22 different permits to Strateco to advance the project, in which the company had already invested $123-million.

Strateco said its legal advisers were examining the impact and reach of this new development on the legal proceedings currently under way.

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