Resisting lithium mining in Quebec 

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Lake Simard, on Long Point First Nation land, is vital for the community. Mine operations and runoff would cause irreparable harm. Credit: Cassandra Pichette

Below the surface of the unceded territory of the Anicinape Aki, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue in western Quebec, a rare resource has caught the eye of Sayona Mining: lithium. 

The company plans to extract lithium at three sites in the region. One, the Tamsin Lithium Project, is on the unceded territory of Long Point First Nation (LPFN). In 2018, Sayona Mining acquired a claim to these lands, and dozens of others, through provincial mining laws. The laws did not require the company to gain the consent of the First Nation, or even to consult them. 

When they learned about Sayona’s claim to their land, LPFN sounded the alarm: mine operations and runoff would irreparably harm Lake Simard, vital for their community. A mine would put their traditional practices—hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering—at grave risk. 

LPFN mobilized together with other environmental and civil society groups, including Inter Pares counterpart MiningWatch Canada. With MiningWatch support, they drew attention to the risk the mines pose to their lands and way of life. Then MiningWatch and the groups discovered Sayona Mining had misled the public and the government about the intended scale of another of its mining sites—the Authier Lithium project—to avoid a full environmental impact assessment. Concerned by this evasion, LPFN and allies have called on Quebec’s government to conduct a full environmental review of all three projects. 

While they wait for a response from the province, Long Point First Nation, with MiningWatch support, is seeking to conduct their own environmental assessment review on the Tansim project. 

"The findings of our own assessment must be critical in deciding whether or not to allow the project to proceed," says Steeve Mathias, former Chief of the Long Point First Nation’s Council.

According to MiningWatch, mining companies in Quebec have claimed an area the size of Cuba. And while Quebec has 11 First Nations, none of the province’s environmental laws require consultation or engagement with them.

Long Point First Nation’s struggle is shared by Indigenous peoples across Canada. As a co-founder and active member of MiningWatch, Inter Pares is in solidarity with Indigenous-led struggles to assert their right to steward their lands for themselves, their communities, and for future generations. 

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