Quebec pulls permits for Copper One claims at Riviere Dore

Source: Canadian Mining Journal

Written by: Marilyn Scales

When a government unilaterally pulls a company’s exploration permits for a property, it is usual to wonder “What kind of tin-pot dictatorship is this?”

This time it was the government of Quebec. The provincial ministry of energy and natural resources (MERN) issued a press release last week announcing that it plans to suspend again all the Riviere Dore claims belonging to Copper One 150 km southeast of Val d’Or, QC.

The government action was taken after the Algonquins of Barriere Lake held a news conference saying they were strongly opposed to further exploration work on their territory, and will blockade the claims. They assert they have not been consulted on the proposed work. The Algonquin community would like to see the Quebec Mining Act changed to require consultation on mineral projects from the outset. The province says it is working on a policy that will cover consultation with First Nations.

This writer is taken aback that in Canada any government can pull a permit with so little discussion. The original letter to Copper One was dated Jan. 17 and received Jan. 20. It contained a 15-day deadline to respond. But the press release went out on Jan. 26, only nine days after the original notice.

This is a real setback for Copper One, which has only the one project, Riviere Dore. It had already awarded this winter’s drilling contract, and it seemed the company was poised to move forward. The Riviere Dore claims were first placed under suspension in July 2011 which left the company struggling to stay afloat. Quebec lifted the suspension last June and extended the permits for an additional two years.

Presumably the current permit problem can be worked out without years of more delay. There is no question that every indigenous community affected by exploration and mining must be consulted. A better solution from the province might have been to give the company and the aboriginals a moderator and deadline with which to work through their differences.

Before work on the claims was originally suspended, nickel-copper-bearing semi-massive sulphides had been discovered at Riviere Dore. Forty-two conductive target zones, nine of which were deemed to be high priority, were identified by AeroTEM and magnetics surveying. Channel sampling returned more than 1% Cu over 6.0 metres.