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23/06/2024
Mining News

Quebec graphite mine proposal draws local protests over environmental and defense concerns

In Quebec’s Laurentians, near Duhamel and a wildlife reserve, Lomiko Metals Inc. plans to develop a graphite mine. This venture has sparked protests among local residents worried about environmental impacts, especially after learning about the Pentagon’s involvement. Lomiko received $11.4 million from the U.S. Department of Defence and $4.9 million from Natural Resources Canada to convert graphite into battery-grade material for electric vehicles.

The Pentagon’s declaration that the graphite would support North American energy supply chains and be used for “defence applications” has intensified local opposition. Louis Saint-Hilaire, a spokesperson for the Coalition québécoise des lacs incompatibles à l’activité minière, expressed concerns that the project may not be as environmentally friendly as initially claimed, fearing the graphite might be used in American military equipment.

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Claude Bouffard of the Association pour la protection et l’environnement du Lac-des-Plages stated that while he isn’t against graphite mining, his community hasn’t consented to Lomiko’s project, feeling betrayed by both the company and government.

Lomiko Metals plans feasibility and metallurgical studies over the next five years, with a review by Quebec’s environmental consultations office (BAPE) before construction begins in 2027. Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources, Maïté Blanchette Vézina, emphasized that mining projects must have local approval.

Concerns persist about how the Pentagon will use the graphite. Jean-François Boulanger, a mineral engineering professor, confirmed that purified graphite is used for batteries, while non-purified graphite serves various industrial purposes, including in military applications. Teresa Kramarz of the University of Toronto noted the strategic importance of securing graphite supply chains, given China’s dominance in production.

Natural Resources Canada clarified that the funding doesn’t grant privileged access to the produced graphite for Canada or the U.S. However, Boulanger suspects discussions about securing graphite supplies are likely underway. Kramarz highlighted the fears of local residents about environmental degradation and economic dependency, stressing the need for democratic community involvement in such decisions.

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