Organization Demands Integrated Planning and Development of Mined Land in Quebec

Referring to the Quebec Mining Act, the organization Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine (Mining Watch counterpart in Quebec) notes, "In addition to allowing drilling to take place without environmental assessment and public consultation, it is virtually impossible to revoke mining claims under current laws. The presence of mining claims for many years (often for speculative purposes) prevents integrated land-use planning, as well as environmental conservation during this period."[1]

Premier Legault promised last August, before the Quebec election, that no mining project would be carried out "without social acceptability."

Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine quotes a recent Léger poll that "three out of four people in Quebec (75%) say they are in favour of "banning all mining projects in tourist or resort areas;" a similar proportion (78%) want to "require the consent of local populations (e.g., municipalities, Indigenous Peoples) before authorizing any mining activity on their territory;" and almost all (89%) want to "prohibit the dumping of mining waste in any lake, river or sensitive ecological area." This is expressed in the form of people in many local communities, including Indigenous ones, organizing to oppose these mining projects of so-called metals for a "green economy" in which they have no decisive say.

Indigenous Peoples and the Quebec Mining Act

Some experts have examined the Quebec Mining Act in relation to Indigenous Peoples. One of them, Sophie Thériault of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, in a 2010 article, "A Mining Regime Based on the Outdated Principle of 'Free Mining,'" stated:

"Although it has been modified several times since the adoption of the first mining law in 1880, to this day the Quebec mining regime remains anchored in the principle of 'freedom of mineral exploration,' better known as 'free entry mining,' or simply 'free mining.' [...] At least one study of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories has concluded that the institutions derived from the principle of 'free mining' and Aboriginal title protected by section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 are irreconcilable. The conclusions of this study are, in our view, equally valid with respect to the Quebec mining regime, at least on territories where the Aboriginal rights of the Indigenous Peoples have never been ceded or extinguished," which is the case for much of the territory occupied by Indigenous Peoples in Quebec.[2]

On December 6, 2019, in Quebec Superior Court, the Mitchikanibikok Inik First Nation of Kitiganik (the Algonquins of Barrière Lake, in the Temiscamingue area) filed an "application for permanent Review and Permanent Injunction." In the eight-page document left with the court, it "challenges the constitutionality of certain sections of the Mining Act" pursuant to Sections 35 and 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982."

The document goes on to say that "the Applicant brings this application because the Respondent [the Government of Quebec and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources] maintains an Act (and related policy) under which it does not consult the Applicant prior to registering, renewing, or transferring mineral claims upon the Applicant's unceded Indigenous territory, as it must under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Consultation is necessary so that the Respondent identifies and accommodates Aboriginal rights which may be adversely affected by mineral claims granted to others under the Act."[3]

The Legault government intervened in Quebec Superior Court with its battery of lawyers in September 2021 to try to stop the application for an injunction from going ahead. The December 6, 2019 application for an injunction would declare sections 56, 61, 65 and 72 of the Quebec Mining Act unconstitutional.[4]

The outcome of that intervention is not yet known.


1. "Mining Claims: The Urgency of a Moratorium, Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine,", November 21, 2022.

2. "Rethinking the Foundations of Quebec's Mining Regime with Respect to the Crown's Duty to Consult and Accommodate Aboriginal Peoples," Sophie Thériault, McGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law, Vol. 6 No. 2, 2010, pp 217-233.

3. "Application for Judicial Review and Permanent Application," Quebec Superior Court, December 6, 2019.

4. "Government motion attempts to deny Mitchikanibikok Inik First Nation their day in court," Ecojustice, September 16, 2021.

(With files from Quebec government, Pour que le Québec ait meilleur mine, McGill University, Ecojustice)

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 2 - February 2023

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