Strateco Resources: Former Star of Plan Nord loses its cause

Resources Strateco, a former mining company of Plan Nord with a uranium mine project, is losing its case to the Government of Quebec.

The company, founded by geologist Guy Hébert, claimed $ 200 million for the abortion of its proposed Matoush uranium mine.

In May 2005, Strateco Resources became the owner of mineral claims in the Monts Otish region of northern Quebec, 275 km northeast of Chibougamau. Three years later, when the price of uranium reached a peak, it began the Matoush project.

The project lands are affected by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, where the Crees have their trapping, hunting and fishing territories.

For the government, the social acceptability of the uranium mine project was an essential condition.

After a few years of discussion, the Cree opposed the Strateco uranium exploration project.

In March 2013, Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet announced a moratorium on all uranium exploration and development projects. The Strateco project is therefore on the ice.

The Strateco share immediately drops to the Toronto Stock Exchange and its assets are impaired in the order of $ 87 million. The company sends a formal notice to the Minister of the Environment.

She criticizes the government for encouraging her to invest, for associating her with the Plan Nord, and then turning around by refusing her license.

In Strateco’s view, the refusal of the permit is tantamount to expropriation in disguise.

The decision of the Minister

Judge Denis Jacques of the Superior Court, in a strong 115-page judgment, recalled that the decisions of a minister enjoy significant relative immunity. The court does not have to decide instead of the minister.

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To obtain the quashing of a decision of a minister, it must be demonstrated the unreasonableness and bad faith of the decision-maker, notes Justice Jacques.

The Superior Court sees no such thing in Strateco’s saga. “Not only can the decision-maker consider the social acceptability of a project, but it must,” writes Judge Denis Jacques.

The Minister’s Notice of Refusal was reasoned, the judge noted, and the decision was not taken lightly.

The Cree community has always wanted to hear about the long-term effects of operating a uranium mine. Strateco has never replied to this request, notes the Court.

The possibility of not obtaining the required authorizations was a known risk from the outset. Strateco’s managers and investors “were aware of the low probability, like any mine, that the project would lead to a mine in production,” Jacques J. wrote, refusing any compensation.