New report questions the future of Quebec’s uranium mining industry
The outlook of Quebec’s uranium mining industry does not look promising as a new report has concluded that “it would be counterindicated, [or ill-advised] in the present context, to allow uranium mining operations in Québec.”
The condemning remarks are part of a 626-page report conducted by Québec's Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE).
According to the BAPE report, uranium mining in the province is far from reaching social and political consensus due to scientific uncertainty and gaps in technological knowledge. “These uncertainties are compounded by the radioactivity of uranium residues, which may remain problematic for thousands of years,” the agency wrote in its report.
The report also stated that Quebec’s government could ultimately decide to suspend, or terminate, the local uranium industry.
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"The BAPE's decision to continue to question the long-standing science and proven safe track record of modern uranium mining is misleading Quebecers and all Canadians," said Michael Binder, president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
"To suggest that uranium mining is unsafe is to imply that the CNSC and the government of Saskatchewan have been irresponsible in their approval and oversight of the uranium mines of Canada for the last 30 years."
However, the report also revealed a safety framework for the province to follow if it chose to open the door to uranium mining. The three requirements included securing social acceptance, making sustained efforts to gain knowledge with the aim of closing scientific knowledge gaps and technological and uncertainties, and taking the time required to formulate and adopt a legal framework for uranium mining through harmonized rules with federal legislation.
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According to CanadianManufacturing.com, the Canadian Nuclear Association said it looks forward to working with the Quebec Government as it studies the benefits and risks posed by uranium mining.
“We appreciate that the Quebec Government is keeping an open mind on this issue, particularly as it works with all other provinces to develop a clean energy strategy for Canada,” said John Barrett, CNA President.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador welcomed the BAPE report, commenting that it supports their anti-uranium mining position.
“The AFNQL declares a permanent moratorium on the development of the uranium and rare earth sector on all the territories of First Nations in Quebec and invites the provincial government to do the same,” the organization said.
Canada is the second-largest uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and ahead of Australia.
Lynas revenue jumps 21% as rare earth prices jump
Australian miner Lynas Rare Earths posted a 20.6% rise in revenue in the March quarter as selling prices for the key metals it mines hit record highs amid strong demand, particularly for neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr).
NdPr is used in magnets for electric vehicles and windfarms, in consumer goods like smartphones, and in military equipment such as jet engines and missile guidance systems.
The company said it plans to maintain production at 75% however, as it seeks to continue to meet covid-19 safety protocols and grapples with shipping difficulties. Shares in Lynas fell 6.1% after the results.
“They have faced a few logistics issues, and it would be good to know when they are going to start lifting their utilisation rates a bit,” said portfolio manager Andy Forster of Argo Investments in Sydney.
“Pricing has been pretty strong although it may have peeled back a bit recently. I still think the medium, long-term outlook is pretty good for their suite of products.”
Lynas post ed revenue of A$110mn ($85.37mn) for the three months to the end of March, up from A$91.2mn a year earlier as prices soared.
It said its full product range garnered average selling prices of A$35.5/kg during the March quarter, up from $23.7 in the first half of the financial year. “While the persistence of the covid crisis, especially in Europe, calls for careful forecasts for our business ahead, we see the rare earth market recovering very quickly,” said Lynas, the world’s largest rare earths producer outside China.
Freight demand has spiked during the pandemic, while the blockage of the Suez Canal in March delayed a shipment to April.
Lynas’ output of 4,463 tonnes of rare earth oxide (REO) during the quarter was marginally lower than 4,465 tonnes from a year earlier.