Monday, April 14, 2014

Kipawa Lake Preservation Society

Recently, the Kipawa Lake Preservation Society launched their website, The purpose of the site is to inform the public of the current threats to the Kipawa watershed. The current focus is on mining and specifically the mining of rare earths and Kipawa Rare Earths Project proposed by a junior mining company, Matamec Explorations Inc. If allowed to proceed this project has the potential to forever change the area and the watershed. Information on potential risks and impacts presented on the website have been thoroughly researched and come from reputable sources such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) as well as Government of Canada reports. Matamec Explorations Inc. published a feasibility report in fall 2013 that identified many potential impacts including:
  • Effects on surface water quality and hydrology
  • Drawdown of groundwater
  • Soil Quality
  • Air Quality
  • Noise and Vibration
  • Loss of vegetation and wetlands
  • Habitat Loss and Alteration
  • Relocation of seasonal camps and cottages
  • Effects on recreational use of area (hunting, fishing, trapping, canoeing)
  • Disturbance to archeological sites
  • Visual modification to the landscape
  • Traffic increases on the Maniwaki Road
  • Potential risk of chemical products being split during transport (from Ontario to Quebec)
  • Modifications to biophysical and social environment
The extraction and processing rare earths present a unique set of risks not present with other types of mining. While, Canada has more stringent environmental laws than China (currently the top rare earth producer), Canadian environmental laws were written prior to the existence of rare earth mining. Canadian environmental laws do not address many of the contaminants of concern or place restrictions upon their release into the environment. This project site is located in close proximity to the Kipawa watershed and upstream of important fish spawning habitat, drinking water sources as well as a world renowned tourist destination. This is no place for a toxic open pit rare earth mine. While those in favor of the project argue that rare earths are vital for technology such as smart phones, lap tops, MRIs and cancer treatments it is important to note that the intended use of the majority of the rare earth ores extracted from this project are for the production of hybrid and electric vehicles. These vehicles labelled as ‘green technology’ can hardly be called so when the environmental destruction that occurs during the process of obtaining rare earths is taken into account. The technology already exists to produce hybrid and electric vehicles without the use of rare earth ores and many companies are even making use of recycling rare earth ores discarded from smart phones and other hand held electronic devices in producing their vehicles.

It is alarming that this project is receiving support from local and provincial government bodies prior to the completion of environmental impact assessments and without consideration of social acceptability. In 2012, 17 out of 20 mayors of the local municipalities voted in favor of the proposed project. Recently, Matamec announced the financial contribution of 4 million dollars by Ressources Quebec into the project.

For more information please visit or contact 
Kipawa Lake Preservation Society
P.O. Box 1
Temiscaming, Quebec
J0Z 3R0 

The mission of the Kipawa Lake Preservation Society is to preserve the Kipawa watershed as it is, environmentally healthy and unpolluted, through constant dialogue, education and protective initiatives that involve the local population, general public, government officials and corporations directly or indirectly related to the Kipawa watershed.

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