DOING SOME DIGGING Prospecting the hard way

Finding a deposit that will support a profitable mining operation gets harder every day. Prospectors must look fart...
Finding a deposit that will support a profitable mining operation gets harder every day. Prospectors must look farther, deeper and at lesser grades than they did in the past. They face a web of red tape from various governments, not the least of which is tied around the environmental aspect of a project. Clearing all the regulatory hurdles is no guarantee that opposition won't be mounted anyway from non-governmental organizations, religious orders, environmentalists and the arts community.

The arts community? What the heck do they know about mining?

It doesn't matter that, on the whole, the mining industry flies below the radar of the arts community. What matters is that a respected member of the latter is using his name to create public opposition to the former.

Well-known Quebec singer-poet-filmmaker Richard Desjardins wants the Abitibi-Temiscaming area of Quebec saved from modern mineral exploration. Given his success fighting the forest industry, he is a voice that will be heard. His particular target is Kanasuta Lake, which looks in photos to be a pristine wilderness. Desjardins went to work against the companies holding logging rights in the area. First he founded l'Action Boreal de Abitibi-Teminscamingue, a chapter of Boreal Action which is dedicated to preserving this country's northern forests. Then he set about making a documentary film about the area, a film that raised awareness of the issue. Now in the name of preserving biodiversity, he is asking the federal and provincial governments to declare a moratorium on harvesting trees.

Included in Desjardins' demands is the protection of these forests from mining and hydro-electric development.

I can't imagine removing any lands near the Abitibi Greenstone Belt from staking or mining. This area is home to as many as 150 mines, old and new. There is a reason the mining industry continues to be interested in the area. The potential for another profitable mine is very high in the region.

The l'association de l'exploration minire du Qubec, which represents the province's prospectors, is firmly on their side. Besides setting the record straight on several facts regarding mineral exploration, AMEQ pointed out that mining rights are granted only to 4% of the province; certainly the remaining 96% is sufficient for the creation of protected areas.

Small exploration companies such as Montreal-based PRO-SPECT-OR RESOURCES and STRATECO RESOURCES are caught in the crossfire. They have claims in the area which deserve careful examination. What they don't have is a legal defense fund to deal with the unnecessary complication that has arisen.


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