Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Negative Effects of Uranium Exploration

Much of the recent controversy about uranium exploration and mining in West Quebec has centred around the exploration activities of a few junior mining companies. Apologists argue there is "no danger" from exploration and there are "no negative effects related to this activity." They typically go on to say something like "there is no project of opening a mine in your area" [yet].

I beg to differ, unfortunately. The "dangers" and "negative effects" of uranium exploration include the following:
  • mining claims against private property reduce property values by creating uncertainty over the future use of land - this can have very real negative financial implications for someone owning a "claimed" property, especially if they have to sell (it can greatly reduce the available market at any price)
  • mining claims reduce investment in property - residential and recreational - because it is very difficult to justify buying a property or spending money on a property that could be expropriated (why put on the new addition, re-build the cottage or do a landscaping project?) - this leads to short-term job losses in the local trades
  • mining claims and exploration activities divide communities - some property owners want to make a buck by allowing exploration (e.g., $100 per core sample) while others are opposed to the whole notion of exploration and mining and want the mining companies to cease and desist - these views are manifest in public meetings and the press and can be taken advantage of by the exploration and mining companies
  • mining exploration work can have limited effects on the natural environment - trees get cut, trenches get ploughed, core samples get drilled - minimal disruptions in the scheme of things unless they take place near you
  • uranium claims staking and exploration can (and does) lead to mining - if it didn't the companies involved wouldn't be here - this central point is often not discussed at all, rather proponents say a mine is years away and there would be an environmental assessment anyway - the point that is being missed (deliberately?) is uranium mining has serious environmental and health implications, so why support or accommodate exploration?
  • mining claims and exploration activities destroy peace of mind for many property owners - it is very difficult to build towards a retirement on your property or to enjoy your residence or cottage now with the nagging concern of being expropriated or living near a mine hanging over your head like a dark cloud

It seems that some (many?) people in public health agencies and politics in particular fail to perceive the negative implications of mining claims and exploration activities.

I guess until a claim has been made against your property, it is too difficult to grasp the ramifications. Sadly in this case there appears to be no substitute for experience.