The exploration camp Matoush project, Strateco Resources in the region of the Otish mountains, north of Chibougamau
January 15, 2020 4: 00
Uranium Mine: proceedings of 192 M$ against Quebec to the supreme Court
The moratorium on uranium in Quebec has buried her project of mine. Guy Hebert now wants to bring to the supreme Court the continuation of the $ 192 million that his company brought against the provincial government, the action dismissed Monday in the Court of appeal. “Only good news” for the business man, geologist, the moratorium would now be a thing of the past.
The judges Jocelyn F. Rancourt, Suzanne Won and Geneviève Cotnam, the Court of appeal of Quebec, come to reject unanimously the request of Strateco Resources aimed to compensate for”expropriation disguised its claims” by the government of Quebec. Strateco calls for Quebec to $ 182 million (182 684 575 $), plus $ 10 million in punitive damages.
“Seven years wading in the folder… The next step is known, it is the supreme Court. You have to ask for permission to appeal and it is necessary that the cause be in the national interest. But we think that, yes,” said Mr. Hébert to the Sun, Tuesday, by phone.
In 2005 and 2006, the company based in Boucherville, has acquired 559 exploration titles mining (claims) in the North of Quebec. Located in the Otish mountains region, the geographical centre of Québec, the area of the proposed operation is to be 210 km north-east of the cree community of Mistissini and 275 km north of Chibougamau.
Star of the North Plan
Strateco was first introduced by the liberals of Jean Charest among the featured businesses of the Plan Nord. But when the Parti québécois and Pauline Marois have then taken the power, the mining has been denied the necessary permissions for its Matoush project because of a lack of social acceptability among the Cree.
A few years earlier, in 2009, two dozen doctors in Sept-Îles had threatened to resign if a proposed uranium mine were to go forward.
During the 19 months of the reign of the parti québecois, from 2012 to 2014, the first to hold the post of Environment minister, Daniel Breton, has closed the only nuclear plant in Quebec. His successor, Yves-François Blanchet, has declared a moratorium on the sector of uranium. Without prolonging the moratorium in a formal way, the liberals of Philippe Couillard have not revived the folder, once back at the government.
Strateco has filed her lawsuit at the end of 2014. First rebuff from the superior Court of Quebec in 2017, by judge Denis Jacques, who emphasizes that the State and its minister have a “qualified immunity” in their decisions. Judgment reiterated in a second failure legal this Monday, in the Court of appeal.
“We were very surprised and mostly disappointed”, attested to by the president and chief executive officer of Strateco. “Our performances in June were very well done, we had identified of the judges on our side. But they appear to be joined.
“We have 3000 shareholders, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Usa and of course Canada. They have invested a lot, a lot of money, some millions of dollars! It is very frustrating. Quebec does not have a good reputation,” says Mr. Hebert.
At the heart of the $ 182 million claimed damages are $ 125 million spent on the ground, at the rate of $ 20 million per year. A figure that the defense has never denied that, ” said Mr. Hébert.
Strateco is under the protection of the Act creditors arrangement since June 21, 2015, more than four and a half years. “Probably a record”, believes the one who will ask for a new extension in view of the appeal before the supreme Court.
End of the moratorium
“The only positive thing is that the lawyer of the attorney general of Quebec [defendant] came to say that there was more to the moratorium on uranium! This would have died a natural death,” said Mr. Hébert.
“We are still the owner of the claims, it is paying taxes to two years. If you lose, Strateco is in bankruptcy and the lenders will take back the property. They will then agree with the Cree, who were not all against. Those who were against were heard, but the social acceptability, that changes.
“Nuclear power has regained popularity, with the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Then Strateco is not strong, but the project is not dead,” the 70 year old man who prefers to look after his grandchildren instead of probing the bowels of mineral in the North of quebec.