Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mining NOT Socially Accepted in Kipawa!

From Matamec's March 31st report "Social acceptability has become imperative, in an effort to obtain authorisation for any mining projects. The Management Team at Matamec Explorations has from the very beginning encouraged the participation of the population of Temiscaming in the development of its Kipawa project. " Now is the time to speak up! Let Matamec know that mining is NOT socially accepted on Kipawa Lake or any where in the region. Say NO to polluted water, radioactive isotopes in the air you breathe, the water you drink and the berries, fish and wild game that you eat. Say NO to increased cancer rates and chronic illness, organism death and habitat loss. Speak out now or watch silently as the region is forever and irreversibly destroyed. Start by signing and sharing the petition on change.org, 'like' Save Kipawa Lake on facebook and contact us (savekipawalake@gmail.com) to find out what you can do to become more involved in the fight to save Kipawa Lake.

http://www.matamec.com/vns-site/uploads/documents/matamec-mda-mars2013.pdf

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Risks of Mining Rare Earths

Open pit rare earth mining poses several risks to the environment and human health. Rare earth ores are normally extracted using strip mining which consists of vegetation clearing, soil removal, drilling and often blasting followed by stripping and removal of the ore of interest. Any open pit mining operation allows harmful substances to enter the air, soil and water. Rare earth mining poses additional risks due to the presence of radioactive substances as well as the chemicals used during processing. The toxicity of the rare earth elements themselves are still not understood.

Nearly all open pit mining operations have the potential to release aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, gold, iron, lead, manganese, silver, zinc, barium, beryllium, sulfide minerals, fluorine and asbestos. The risks to the environment and human health of many of these substances is listed in the table below.

Substance
Effects on the environment and human health

Rare Earth Elements
Toxicity and effects on the environment and human health still not understood

Sulfide Minerals
Creates sulfuric acid – acid mine drainage, decreasing the pH of water, which acids in the further release of sulfide minerals further decreasing the pH (positive feedback loop) decreased pH allows more metals and acid to be released into the environment

Aluminum
Can enter air, soil, water. Aquatic organisms are more sensitive to aluminum. Toxic to fish. In humans elevated levels cause developmental problems in children and pulmonary issues.

Arsenic
Can enter air, soil, water. Very mobile – travels long distances in the air before settling. Toxic to humans, human carcinogen. Increases risk of skin cancer. Low levels cause nausea, change in heart rhythms, low white blood cell count. Chronic exposure causes gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, blood disorders, and neuropathy. At high levels will cause death. All mammals experience same effects as humans. In aquatic organisms causes genetic mutations and cancer. In plants causes wilting, dehydration and death.

Lead
Once released will accumulate in soils. In plants decreases photosynthesis rates and water absorption. Major health concern for humans, especially children under 7 years of age. Causes negative effects on the cardiovascular, endocrine, muscular, nervous, reproductive and respiratory system, may cause death. Likely a carcinogen. Same effects are seen in mammals, birds and fish.

Manganese
Can impair gastrointestinal, muscular and neurobehavioral function.

Zinc
Toxic in large amounts. In aquatic plants and animals causes decreased growth and reproduction and increased mortality. In mammals (including humans) impairs the nervous and cardiovascular systems. At elevated levels will cause liver and kidney issues.

Barium
Can enter groundwater. Harmful effects on the muscular system, disruption of heart rhythms and paralysis. Ingestion results in gastrointestinal irritation and kidney damage. Toxicity of barium to aquatic and terrestrial organisms is unknown.
Beryllium
Very mobile, can travel in the air and able to enter soil and water. Inhalation causes acute beryllium disease (reddening and swelling of the lungs). Human carcinogen (lung cancer).

Copper
Toxic to plants and animals at high levels. Aquatic organisms are extremely sensitive to copper exposure – causes death in aquatic organisms. Slowed growth and development in terrestrial organisms. Irritant to nose and throat when inhaled. Causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea when ingested. Can lead to kidney and liver damage or death at high levels.

Radionuclides
Thorium-232 and Uranium-238 are radioactive substances that persist in the environment for thousands of years. They produce over 30 other radioactive substances as they undergo decay. Ability to alter biologic molecules and cause mutations and cancer.




Almost all wastes and by-products generated during rare earth mining and processing are radioactive, containing uranium or thorium. Uranium-238 and Thorium-232 are the most common isotopes found associated with rare earth elements. Uranium-238 is water soluble and is a common contaminate of groundwater. Thorium-232 is able to travel long distances, it is very mobile and can contaminate air, soil and water. Radioactive substances are often taken up by plants and from there they are able to bioaccumulate.  Uranium-238 and Thorium-232 and their decay products remain in the environment for thousands of years and pose serious risks. Radioactive decay releases energetic particles, these particles can dislodge electrons found in biologic molecules such as in water, protein and DNA. The ionizing radiation from radioactive decay is a known human carcinogen. The Uranium-238 decay chain includes Radium 226 which produces radon-222 (gas) and bismuth-214 both of which are dangerous radioactive substances.Radon-222 is inhaled and once in the lungs there is a great risk of developing cancer. Radon-222 is carcinogenic to all organisms.

 Methods for proper handling and disposal of uranium and thorium have not yet been developed and this is one of the greatest challenges faced by the rare earth industry. Several projects have been shut down or delayed due to issues with thorium handling and disposal. Among them are the Lynas Corp. Plant in Malaysia and a Mistsubishi rare earth plan in Malaysia. Environmental and human health concerns over thorium are also the main reasons that the Chinese have slowed their production of rare earths. While Canada does have strict environmental laws in comparison to many other nations, Canada's environmental laws were not written with rare earth mining in mind. Canada's Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) were not designed to manage or regulate all of the hazardous substances released during rare earth mining and ore processing. The MMER does not consider thorium and uranium harmful substances and does not impose controls upon their release into the environment. Since their release during mining activities is not associated with the nuclear fuel cycle they are not regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).  The MMER imposes maximum daily discharge limits on arsenic, copper, cyanide, lead, nickel, zinc, total suspended solids and radium-226. The other harmful substances that could be released are not regulated.

Harsh chemicals are also used during the processing of rare earth ores. Strong acids and bases and other toxic chemicals that further ad to the risks associated with extracting rare earth ores. These chemicals must be transported to the mine site putting other areas at risk should spillage occur during transport. Spills or accidents may occur on site with the handling of these chemicals. Wastes produced also need to be properly managed to prevent their entrance into the surrounding environment.

Rare earth mining also releases many air pollutants including: nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and dustfall. Greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are also released. Many companies market their rare earth operations as 'green' operations with a respect for the environment as a few uses of rare earth elements are in products designed to conserve energy or lower carbon emissions (greenhouse gases). However the procedures used to obtain these metals are quite damaging to the environment and they themselves release greenhouse gases. In addition the vast majority of rare earth metals are not for 'green' technologies. Rare earths are found in batteries, magnets, motors, LCD screens, catalytic converters, glass polishing compounds, they are used in oil refining and have been declared vital to the U.S. National Defense as they are used in missile guidance systems and  in laser based targeting equipment.

Canadian environmental laws are insufficient to protect the environment and humans from the risks associated with rare earth mining. In addition, very little is known about the risks associated with the rare earth elements themselves. Therefore, further study and reevaluation of environmental laws should be carried out before any rare earth mine projects are considered.

Unfortunately, many companies such as Matamec are currently 'fast tracking' their projects to meet market demand rather than allowing for further study and a reevaluation of environmental laws to ensure the safety of surrounding environments. Matamec recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with Toyota Tsusho Corp. to fast track the development of the Kipawa Rare Earths project.

Please help us convince the government of Quebec and Canada that further study is needed before this project can proceed to fully evaluate the risks this project would impose on the pristine Kipawa Lake watershed and the health risks to nearby communities.

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References:



Sunday, July 14, 2013

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Algonquin First Nation leaders express concern over Kipawa Rare Earths

Wolf Lake and Eagle Village First Nation leaders express their concerns over the Kipawa Rare Earths project and call for a joint review panel for the federal environmental impact assessment. Their request for a joint review was denied. 

http://www.miningwatch.ca/news/algonquin-nations-call-joint-review-panel-rare-earths-project

Algonquin Nations Call for Joint Review Panel for Rare Earths Project

Source: 
 Wolf Lake and Eagle Village Algonquin First Nations
Wolf Lake First Nation
Hunter’s Point, P.O. Box 998
Temiscaming, QC J0Z 3R0                       
Tel: 819-627-3628 
Fax: 819-627-1109 
Eagle Village First Nation-Kipawa
Migizy Odenaw, P.O. Box 756
Temiscaming, QC J0Z 3R0
Tel: 819-627-3455
Fax: 819-627-9428
PRESS RELEASE

Algonquins Call for Joint Environmental Review Panel for Proposed Matamec/Toyota Rare Earth Elements Open Pit Mine in Kipawa, Quebec

(Kipawa, Quebec) Our two Algonquin First Nations are aware that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) has initiated an environmental assessment of a proposed Kipawa Rare Earth Elements open pit mine. The proposed mine site is located within, and has the potential to significantly affect, the shared traditional territories of our two First Nations.
As Algonquin First Nation Governments who represent our Algonquin peoples our duty is to protect our lands, waters and environment for our present and future generations.
Rare earth mines can be the source of significant toxics that risk being released to the environment including radioactive elements (uranium and thorium) and the poorly understood rare earth elements themselves. Existing regulatory regimes in Quebec and Canada have not been designed with rare earth elements in mind, pointing to the need for additional, closer scrutiny of the Project.
As Wolf Lake Chief Harry St. Denis stated today “we are concerned that the standard Environmental Assessment process will not adequately address our concerns about the potential for adverse environmental impacts from the Project. As it stands now, the mine does not trigger an environmental assessment under Quebec legislation so the federal Environmental Assessment will be the only one done for this proposed mine.”
Chief St. Denis added “we have determined that a Joint Review Panel pursuant to section 38(C) of the CEAA with our Algonquin First Nation Governments would provide a much more appropriate means of evaluating this Project and we have written to the federal Minister of the Environment Peter Kent calling on him to establish a Joint Review Panel.”
Eagle Village Chief Madeleine Paul also stated today “from meetings that have been held in our two Algonquin First Nation communities we know that there is a high degree of public concern among our Algonquin Peoples and also within the non-Algonquin population. While the environmental impacts and public concern are reason enough to refer the Project to a review panel, we feel the real opportunity with a Joint Federal-Algonquin Panel is in the potential for inter-jurisdictional cooperation with our two Algonquin First Nation Governments (Eagle Village & Wolf Lake).”
The proponents of the proposed Rare Earth Elements open pit mine are Matamec Explorations Inc. a junior mining exploration company with the financial support of Toyota Tsusho Corporation.
In parallel, the Company is exploring more than 35km of strike length in the Kipawa Alkalic Complex for rare earths-yttrium-zirconium-niobium-tantalum mineralization on the shared territory of the Algonquin First Nations.




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The MRC Temiscaming and the Kipawa Rare Earths proposal by Matamec

The MRC Temiscaming is in favor of the Kipawa Rare Earths proposal by Matamec provided Matamec abides by government imposed rules and regulations. Norman Young (Mayor of Kipawa) and André Paquet (Mayor Fugèreville) and Claudine Laforge Clouâtre (Mayor of St-Édouard-de-Fabre) voted against the project and expressed their concerns relating to a lack of information on the health and environmental risks. All other 17 members voted for the project. The 17 votes for the project were the Mayors of Angliers, Bearn, Duhamel-Ouest, Guerin, Laforce, Latulipe-et-Gaboury, Laverlochere, Lorrainville, Moffet, Nedelec, Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Remigny, St-Bruno-de-Guigues, St-Eugene-de-Guigues, Belleterre, Temiscamingue and Ville-Marie. I applaud those Mayors who voiced their concerns. I am concerned about the fact that Mayors of towns so far away have such an influence on what happens in this area.

The document containing this information can be viewed by visiting https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_RVu60TVfd2NkJPdEdXLVJoSlk/edit?usp=sharing




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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kipawa Rare Earths Project


The Kipawa Rare Earths Project is being carried out by Matamec Explorations Inc. a junior mining company, in collaboration with Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (Toyota). The project involves the creation of an open pit mine (with dimensions of 1500 meters in length by 320 meters wide and a depth of 110 meters), 2 waste rock piles, an ore processing plant as well as rejects and tailings disposal on site and within the Kipawa watershed. The mine is expected to be in production for a period of approximately 13 years with 1.5 million tonnes of ore being treated per year. The project anticipated to commence early in 2014 with the clearing of the land and building construction. Other operations such as blasting and ore processing will being in 2015 and continue until 2028. A project of this nature usually requires 7-20 years of planning to implement, however this project is being 'fast tracked' to meet market demand.



The open pit mine will be located along the Kipawa River near Brennan (Sairs) Lake and Sheffield Lake. Rejects and tailings storage will occur on site. Exact location of these facilities has not yet been determined but potential sites appear to be wetland areas located within the Kipawa Watershed. Three potential sites for tailings storage were identified.

Potential tailings storage sites:





Aerial Views of Potential Tailings Storage Sites





The radioactivity, leachability and acid generation potential of the rejects and tailings have still not been determined. There will be two waste rock piles with a capacity of 28 metric tonnes and an elevation of 365 meters.The tailings and reject storage sites will have a capacity of 20.4 metric tonnes. The rejects will be piled and a drainage system will be implemented to collect water, the details on this system are not yet available. The tailings storage will be lined with a geomembrane and confined by a dike, exact specifications of the tailing storage and methods to prevent contamination to surrounding areas are not yet available.

A significant amount of waste water will be produced. Waste water will include mine water, run off from waste rock piles, tailings site, rejects site, industrial site as well as process water. The discharge points of this waste water and treatment methods, if any, are not yet available. Water will enter the open mine pit via precipitation, infiltration, it along with other waste water will be pumped into a sedimentation pond. A trench system will be installed around the open pit, waste rock piles, rejects site to direct water to the sediment pond. Water from the sediment pond will be discharged to nearby water bodies, exact locations have not yet been determined. Information on treatment of this waste water prior to discharge is not available. It will only be carried out if necessary to comply with environmental laws. It is important to note that rare earth mining has never been carried out in Canada. The Metal Mining and Effluent Regulations are not designed to manage the environmental risks of this type of mining. These laws do not regulate all of the substances that could be released during rare earth mining. An additional effluent will be installed from the water that is spilt on the tailings site, the location of this discharge point has not yet been determined.

Fresh water intakes will be required for the mine as well as the plant. Water use is estimated at 190-210 meters cubed of freshwater per hour. The exact location of draw for this freshwater has not yet been determined. Dust will be released during blasting, ore crushing, milling and transportation by truck. Changes to existing forestry roads and new access roads will be required including a bridge over the Kipawa River. The rare earth concentrate will be transported to Temiscaming via truck and then by rail to ports on the Pacific Coast or St. Lawrence for shipping to Asia or Europe. It is estimated that two containers of concentrate will be produced per day.

Processing the ore involves crushing, milling, magnetic separation, leaching using strong acids, rinsing and neutralizing using strong bases, such as Lime. These strong acids and bases will be transported to the processing facility by truck from Ontario via HWY 63 and the Maniwaki Road, putting other watersheds at risk should an accident or truck roll over occur. Wastes generated during the processing of the ore will remain on site in the reject rock piles, tailings sites or released into the Kipawa watershed as effluent.
Processing Plant Location

Aerial View of Processing Plant Location

This forest will be replaced by the open Pit Rare Earths Mine
Details of the ore processing procedures

For more information please visit:

http://www.miningwatch.ca/article/rare-earth-elements-background-information

http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/details-eng.cfm?evaluation=80029


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Environmentalists dirty little secret, rare earth elements



So called 'green' technologies are in fact not green at all. We have been mislead into thinking we are doing a good deed for the plant by using a compact fluorescent light bulb, buying a hybrid car, using wind and solar energy. Meanwhile these technologies require rare earth elements and the process of extracting them is extremely harmful to the environment and human health. We are replacing one environmental problem with another. Rare earth elements are found in many modern day conveniences, smart phones, lap tops, tvs, we need to develop better methods of recycling these elements and methods of producing 'green' technologies that truly are green.


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Matamec - Kipawa Mine Project - English Version



The only thing 'green' about this project are the products produced using the rare earth elements. What the video fails to include is the fact that several trucks of acid will be required per day for the processing - the acid will be transported by truck from Ontario, through North Bay and along the HWY 63 corridor and then along the Maniwaki road putting other watersheds as risk should an accident occur. The project will require 190-210 meters cubed of fresh water per hour! Effluent will be released into the nearby water bodies. Wetlands will be transferred into tailings sites which will require careful monitoring well after Matamec has made their money and moved on. The project will produce more than 40 million tonnes of waste and tailings including 600 tonnes of Uranium Oxide and 5,000-8,000 tones of Thorium Oxide both of which remain active for tens of thousands of years. They also generate over 30 other radioactive substances as they undergo radioactive decay. Of course Matamec's video makes no mention of the risks to the local environment or the local population. Some risks include contamination of air, soil and water by heavy metals and radioactive substances. Destruction of important wildlife areas, habitat, destruction of fish habitat, fish spawning grounds, increased cancer rates amount local residents. They also make no mention of non-environmentally friendly uses of rare earth elements or the fact that not one rare earth mine has ever operated in the world without serious environmental and human health consequences.


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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Appeal for a provincial environmental impact assessment

La coalition pour que le Quebec ait meilleure mine appeals to M. Yves-François Blanchet 
Ministre responsable du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs for provincial environmental impact assessment. Due to the tonnage extract per day (under 7000 tonnes) the project does not trigger a Quebec environmental impact assessment. Matamec was asked to voluntarily submit to a provincial assessment, their response was that they would do only what was legally required.

http://www.miningwatch.ca/sites/www.miningwatch.ca/files/2013-05-23-lettreministreblanchet-minesterresrares.pdf


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North Bay Nugget - Rare Earths Mine Under Scrutiny

http://www.nugget.ca/2013/06/11/rare-earths-mine-under-scrutiny

Mr. Claude Brisson Director of Regional Relations for Matamec was interviewed, these were his statements:


“I realize people are concerned” about the project, Claude Brisson, director of regional relations, said Tuesday. “They are concerned about the water quality” of Kipawa Lake.
“I live on the lake.”
The processing plant was moved away from the open pit location, Brisson said, so the nearby waterways, including the Kipawa River, will be protected.
There will also be a tailings site to take the waste from the treated ore. It will also be well away from the waterways, Brisson said, and will be easy to treat.
“What we don’t want, is . . . something that we will have to take care of for a long, long time” after the mine’s projected 15 to 16 years of operation.

I think perhaps Mr. Brisson himself is not fully aware and seriously misinformed about the risks of this project. If he lives on the lake he should be concerned. Moving the processing plant and tailings sites further away from the water bodies in no way guarantees their protection. All sites as still located within the Kipawa Lake Catchment Basin, meaning all run off waters from the mine, spills, etc. will make their way into Kipawa Lake. Since when are mine tailings easy to treat? Mine tailings often contain heavy metals, and radioactive substances. They are something that you have to take care of for a long, long time, well after the projected 15-16 years of operation.

 This project will produce more than 40 million tonnes of waste and tailings including 600 tonnes of Uranium Oxide and 5,000-8,000 tonnes of Thorium Oxide. Both of which remain active for tens of thousands of years and generate over 30 other radioactive byproducts as they undergo radioactive decay. The tailings sites will have to be properly managed for a very long time. Mining companies do not stick around to do this job of clean up and management of their wastes. It falls upon the government to clean up their mess and tax payer money is used to that end. End of the day, Matamec and Toyota make a ton of money off of this project (billions of dollars), they destroy the land, the community makes very little, they are able to tax any buildings but mining operations don't have many buildings. The project might employ a few local residents but the majority of positions will not go to local residents. Then when the mining company is finished extracting Canada's natural resources they pick up and leave. The Canadian government is not paid for the ores they extract but is then responsible to clean up the mess. 



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Petition Media Coverage by Radio Canada

Within the first few days of the petition going live there were over 600 signatures and CBC Radio Canada for the Abitibi-Temiscaming included the petition in their news broadcast.

http://www.radio-canada.ca/audio-video/pop.shtml#urlMedia=http://www.radio-canada.ca/Medianet/2013/CBF_Rouyn/BulletinRegionalCBFRouyn201306061400.asx

http://www.radio-canada.ca/audio-video/pop.shtml#urlMedia=http://www.radio-canada.ca/Medianet/2013/CBF_Rouyn/Leradiomagazine201306061636.asx

http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/abitibi/2013/06/07/001-petition-lac-kipawa.shtml


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SAVE KIPAWA LAKE



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Monday, July 8, 2013

Kipawa Lake Today

Kipawa Lake is part of a vast area of wilderness located on the Quebec side of the Ontario/Quebec border North of Ottawa and North-East of North Bay, Ontario. This area is accessible via HWY 63 which runs from North Bay to Temiscaming, Quebec.



View Larger Map

Thousands visit this area every year to hunt, fish, explore, canoe, kayak and vacation. With the exception of the more populated sections of the lake (which are found in Kipawa, Laniel, Mungo Bay and Red Pine Chutes) the shores of  Kipawa Lake are undeveloped with only the occasional cottage, cabin or fishing lodge. A moratorium on development was imposed in the 1980s preventing any new lots from being sold and putting a limit on outfitting operations. The purpose was to help protect the lake trout fishery which was on the verge of collapse. This moratorium has helped keep Kipawa Lake a wilderness area while many other lakes of its size in the past 30 years have become overdeveloped.




This area is rich in biodiversity, it is home to over 200 different species of plants. Trees in the area include white pine, red pine, white birch, yellow birch, maple, spruce, cedar, aspen, hemlock and many others. Many mammals can be found in this region including beaver, white-tailed deer, moose, black bear, lynx, gray wolf, otter, coyote, mink, fisher, red fox... Birds and waterfowl include loons, ducks, owls, bald eagles, osprey, hawks, swamp sparrows... There are many aquatic organisms, important sport fish include walleye, pike, lake trout and brook trout (in the Kipawa River).

The entire area is within Algonquin territory. Two bands currently exist, Eagle Village First Nation located within the village of Kipawa and Wolf Lake First Nation located at Hunter's Point.

Photo: Historical Map of Ontario

The entire region (Kipawa Lake and surrounding watersheds) is currently at risk. The MRC of Temiscaming is currently carrying out the Kipawa Lake Concerted Management Plan. The plan was put in place to assess current issues in the watershed (water quality issues, invasive species, improper sewage disposal, etc.) and determine if there is room for development. The plan will most likely result in the removal of the moratorium. It is still unclear as to if the removal of the moratorium will allow for development on the shores of Kipawa. However, the value of this area lies in its current undeveloped wilderness state. There has also been talk of a few hydroelectric projects, the Tabaret Dam project and the Innergex projects. However, the Tabaret project is rumored to have been abandoned by Hydro Quebec and the Innergex projects are no longer being actively discussed. The main and major threat to the area is mining. There are several companies currently doing exploration near Brennan Lake (Lac Sairs) and along the Kipawa River. The most advanced project is the Kipawa Rare Earths project by Matamec. This project would see the creation of an open pit rare earths mine, two waste rock piles, a processing facility and tailings sites all within the Kipawa Lake catchment basin. All run off water will find its way into Kipawa Lake and continue on downstream to Lake Temiscaming and the Ottawa River. Rare earth mining exposes radioactive substances as well as harmful heavy metals. Harsh acids and bases are used in the processing. Several trucks of acids and bases would be transported daily through North Bay, along the HWY 63 corridor and then along the Maniwaki Road. Thus putting other watersheds at risk should an accident occur. There have been no rare earths projects in Canada to date and none in the world that have operated without devastating effects on the environment. Help us save Kipawa Lake from destruction. 

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