Friday, September 25, 2009

The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake demands full Environmental Assessment on proposed mining operation

KANESATAKE, Quebec City, Sept. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - The Kanesatake Mohawk Council is demanding a full Environmental Assessment be conducted immediately by the Federal Government in regard to a niobium mine planned for the area. Federal involvement is essential due to the safety concerns, Aboriginal rights and fiduciary responsibility issues.

Niocan, Inc. seeks to build and operate a mine on lands which are within the old Seigneury of the Lake of Two Mountains over which the Mohawks have aboriginal and treaty rights. The land upon which the old Saint Laurence Columbium Mine rests is situated within the ongoing Kanesatake land claim.

Some compounds of niobium are known to be toxic. As well, isotopes of radium and polonium exist in high concentrations in the ore body that Niocan proposes to mine. These and other radioactive materials (including Radium 226, Lead 210 and Thorium 230) will be left behind in the significant volumes of radioactive wastes left over from the mining operations in slag and tailings. There are 36 different radioactive by-products in existence.

On February 14, 2002 the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake passed a resolution to defend their traditional territory from the operation of a niobium mine that would affect their waters and lands. The mining project would impact over 25 square kilometres of land in a vibrant agricultural area, which markets directly from the farms to the population of Montreal. This area includes the traditional territory of the Mohawks of Kanesatake.

The Niocan project would undoubtedly have a powerful effect on the area's natural water systems and could destroy the agricultural capability of the surrounding areas.

"We must guard and protect this land for our future generations, both environmentally and health wise, and we remain steadfast in the preservation of our territory," stated Grand Chief Sohenrise Paul Nicholas. "Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl has stated that access to clean drinking water and wastewater systems for First Nations people is a priority of his government. Canada must hold true to its word and proceed with an independent and unbiased assessment."

For further information: Grand Chief Sohenrise Paul Nicholas, (450) 479-8373

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