Kanesatake mulls over mining project

Weniente (left) and Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon argue about a proposed mining project, Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Weniente (left) and Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon argue about a proposed mining project, Thursday, June 2, 2016. Marc Latendresse/Global News

KANESATAKE – The Mohawk community of Kanesatake is considering whether it should allow Eco-Nobium, a Montreal-based developer, to re-open a mine to dig for Niobium, an alloy used for stainless steel.

Eco-Nobium presented its multi-million dollar proposal in front of residents at the Ratihén:the High School gymnasium.

The idea is not sitting well with some residents, like Weniente, who believe Eco-Nobium has no business in Kanesatake.

“When the money is gone, what’s left? All we have left is the land,” said Weniente during an argument with the Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

Simon said he’s neither for, or against the mining project.

He insisted he’s listening to both sides of the debate and said he’ll seek the advice of scientific experts to determine if mining will hurt the environment.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Simon, the developer claims that mining for niobium can bring royalties of up to $5 million annually, for 20 years.

In a poverty stricken Kanasetake, a community of 1,400 residents, Eco-Nobium would bring 240 direct jobs, plus spin-off employment related to the mine.

Simon said he isn’t taking the developers words at face value, and wants Kanetesake to complete  its own environmental assessment so band members can make an informed decision.

“We have very good experts. That’s very important to me,” said Simon.

“If this ends up in court, if we decided the project is not viable, then we need good solid experts, very credible experts that can at least tell the judge that we were within our rights to say no to this project.”

Tweet This

Residents like Simon Dubois, who has lived in Oka for 17 years, is worried about an environmental disaster and thinks the best way to avoid one is to not mine at all.

“A mining project needs to pump a lot of water,” said Dubois.

“So, you lose your wells, and then you lose your water for vegetables.”

Simon said the process to determine if Eco-Nibium will be allowed to mine or not will be a long one and he would like to see the community vote in a referendum.

Story continues below advertisement