Kanesatake warns Oka over planned mining exploration

The municipality of Oka has received a warning from Kanesatake over plans to allow a Quebec mining company to explore a dormant niobium mine on claimed Mohawk territory.

APTN National News
KANESATAKE MOHAWK TERRITORY–The municipality of Oka has received a warning from Kanesatake over plans to allow a Quebec mining company to explore a dormant niobium mine on claimed Mohawk territory.

The warnings was sent in a letter responding to a recent announcement by the municipality hat it has reached an agreement with Augyva Mining Resources to clean up the dormant St. Lawrence Colombium mine site and conduct limited exploration.

“The Mohawks of Kanehsatake were not consulted in your June 2011 agreement with Augyva Mining Resources Inc. and consider this in direct violation of our inherent rights as Aboriginal peoples to lands and resources,” said the letter, signed by Onawari:io. “The Municipalite d’Oka’s action to sign an agreement with Augyva Mining Resources is questionable, arouses suspicion and is an insult to the recent efforts of reconciliation between the Mohawks of Kanehsata:ke and the residents of this area.”

The letter, dated Friday, was addressed to Oka’s Mayor Richard Lalonde and was written on Kenesatake Mohawk Nation letterhead.

The letter raises concerns that Oka’s agreement with Augyva opens a backdoor channel to reopening the niobium mine, which was once one of the largest in the world.

Kanesatake residents have opposed any attempts to restart the mine.

“It behoves us to question as well, whether or not this action will permit the original project to mine niobium…to be successfully implemented,” said the letter. “We therefore urge you to meet with our representatives as soon as possible to avoid any future conflict and promote a relationship based upon peaceful co-existence.”

The old St. Lawrence Colombium mine opened in 1961 and ended operations in 1977. It had two open pits and some underground operations.

Niobium is a valuable chemical element found in the mineral pyrochlore.

It is used to strengthen steel used in pipelines and automobiles. It is also used to make jet engine and rocket parts and superconducting magnets used medically for magnetic resonance imaging or MRIs.

Kanesatake was at the centre of the Oka Crisis in 1990 after community members blocked plans by the Oka golf club to expand its course on a burial ground.

Kanesatake was at the centre of the Oka Crisis in 1990 after community members blocked plans by Oka to expand a golf course on a Mohawk territory that included a burial ground.

Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.