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Sayona Mining’s Authier Lithium Project in Québec, Canada

Various local organizations from the Regional County Municipality (MRC) of Abitibi in Quebec oppose the lithium mine project of Sayona Mining company for its possible socio-environmental impacts.


To fully understand the environmental, social and democratic issues surrounding the Authier mining project, it is necessary to appreciate how sacred the Saint-Mathieu-Berry esker is to the population of the Regional County Municipality (MRC) of Abitibi. Abitibi is a regional county of Quebec, Canada with a population of roughly 25,000 people and the city of Amos lies at its center. The Saint-Mathieu-Berry esker is a natural filter inherited from the retreat of the glaciers several millennia ago and shelters an underground river with water of exceptional purity which, in 2001,  received the prestigious distinction of best water in the world [1] [2]. Moreover, it is from this source that the well-known water bottling company Eska is supplied.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sayona Mining’s Authier Lithium Project in Québec, Canada
State or province:Québec
Location of conflict:La Motte
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Lithium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The project represents an annual production of 115,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate containing lithium (6% Li2O). The project includes an open pit mine, a waste rock and filtered tailings accumulation area (overburden dumps), a plant that will process 2,600 tonnes per day of ore containing lithium, as well as collection of runoff and dewatering water from the pit.

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Project area:884 ha
Level of Investment for the conflictive project177,494,760
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:La Motte: 400 inhabitants; Amos region: 15,000 inhabitants; Abitibiwinni First Nation: 600 Abitibiwinnik
Start of the conflict:01/02/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Sayona Mining Limited from Australia - Owner company
Sayona Québec inc. from Canada - Subsidiary of Sayona Mining
Sayona Québec inc. from Canada - Subsidiary of Sayona Mining
Relevant government actors:Gouvernement du Québec
Ministère de l’Economie du Québec
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles
Ministère de l’environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
Ministère des Transports
Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) du Québec
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Comité citoyen de protection de l’esker (CCPE)
-Regroupement Vigilance Mines de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue (REVIMAT)
-Comité nouvelle Vision (NoVI) de La Motte
-Comité Réflexion, Appropriation, Information, Esker Saint-Mathieu (RAVIE-SM)
- Mining Watch Canadá
- Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine!
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Pikogan community, also known as Abitibiwinni First Nation
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Global warming, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:A) Creation of hiking trails: Goûte à goûte project.
This project consists of creating a pedestrian network on the site of a possible mining operation which would then extend northward to Amos on the Saint Mathieu-Berry esker. A group of citizens are trying to promote the tourism industry along the esker with a project with low environmental impact.

B) The coalition "Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine" proposes 5 conditions to limit the impacts of the transport electrification process [24] [25]:

1. Reduction at source: prioritize investments in recycling and the circular economy, modes of transport and consumption that are both low in carbon and in materials, public transport, carpooling, fuel-efficient vehicles; real bonus / penalty measures to discourage large fuel-guzzling vehicles; change the way municipalities are financed to stop urban sprawl.

2. Environmental protection: subject all new mines to an environmental assessment and BAPE consultations — the equivalent is already being done for northern Quebec; prohibit all mining operations near sensitive ecological environments, including drinking water eskers, and prioritize the achievement of protected area objectives throughout Quebec - there is a long delay in southern Quebec.

3. Land use planning and respect for local communities: review the current laws and frameworks in order to give more powers to municipalities, MR and Indigenous Nations to protect the sensitive environments of their territories, in particular resorts, recreational tourism, ecotourism, sustainable forestry (eg: Mining Law, Land Use Planning and Development Law, Government guidelines for “territories incompatible with mining activity”).

4. Polluter-pays principle: demand solid financial guarantees for the clean-up of contaminated mining sites at the expense of companies and not of Quebecers, including a fund financed in part by the industry for abandoned sites with a debt of 1.2 billion; strengthen the capacity of ministries and penal sanctions for environmental offenses.

5. Critère d’investissement responsable : revoir et renforcer les critères sociaux, environnementaux et économiques d’Investissement Québec et la Caisse de dépôt et placement, notamment dans le secteur minier, en collaboration d’experts indépendants et diverses parties prenantes.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[6] Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques; Une nouvelle Loi sur la qualité de l'environnement pour faire avancer le Québec de façon responsable au bénéfice de tous
[click to view]

[9] Rapport Conseil régional de l’environnement de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue sur le Projet Authier; 20 août 2018
[click to view]

[13] Sayona Québec; Etude définitive de faisabilité projet Authier; 24 septembre 2018
[click to view]

[21] Société de l’eau souterraine Abitibi-Témiscamingue; Rapport d’évaluation de l’évaluation environnementale du projet de mine de spodumène de lithium Authier de S Ltd.— Volet Eau souterraine; Août 2018
[click to view]

[22] Rapport de consultation publique Projet Authier, septiembre 2018
[click to view]

[1] Journal de Montréal; Une mine de lithium à 500 mètres de la meilleure eau au monde?; 26 avril 2018
[click to view]

[2] Radio Canada; La course au lithium met-elle en péril la « meilleure eau du monde »?; 18 juin 2019
[click to view]

[3] Le Devoir; Des tonnes de rejets miniers stockés près d’un esker; 25 juin 2019
[click to view]

[4] Radio Canada; Projet minier controversé près d'un esker : une étude du BAPE serait nécessaire; 18 juin 2019
[click to view]

[5] Radio Canada; Mine près de l'esker : la compagnie Sayona soutient qu'elle échappera au BAPE; 20 février 2019
[click to view]

[7] Radio Canada; Mine aux abords d'un esker : la ministre de l'Environnement pourrait-elle soumettre le projet au BAPE?; 3 mars 2018
[click to view]

[8]; Demande d’audiences publiques pour le projet Authier à La Motte
[click to view]

[10] Radio Canada; Les élus de La Motte aident Sayona Québec à éviter le BAPE; 10 juillet 2018;
[click to view]

[11] Radio Canada; La déclaration d'appui au projet Authier de La Motte adoptée à l'insu du maire; 10 août 2018
[click to view]

[12] Radio Canada; Le maire de La Motte démissionne et livre un vibrant plaidoyer en faveur des consultations publiques; 11 septembre 2018
[click to view]

[14] Radio Canada; Sayona Québec : l'étude de faisabilité laisse planer le doute sur un possible agrandissement de la fosse; 27 septembre 2018
[click to view]

[15] Radio Canada; Le Projet Authier pourrait avoir un impact sur l’Esker Saint-Mathieu-Berry; 30 janvier 2020
[click to view]

[17] Radio Canada; Sayona Québec s'explique devant des membres de l'industrie et dénonce le « bruit médiatique »; 11 octobre 201
[click to view]

[18] Le Citoyen; Projet Authier: le ministre de l’Environnement mis en demeure; 27 février 2019
[click to view]

[19] Radio Énergie; Les permis du projet Authier à l'automne 2019?, 19 novembre 2018
[click to view]

[20]Radio Canada; Sayona Mining s’entend avec un partenaire américain; 11 janvier 2021
[click to view]

[23] Le Citoyen; La population invitée à «porter la goutte en soutien à l’esker»; 17 janvier 2019
[click to view]

[24] Mining Watch Canada; Une coalition pose 5 conditions pour que l’électrification des transports ait meilleure mine; 19 November 2019
[click to view]

[25] Site Web Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Comité citoyen de protection de l'esker; Vidéo résumant les principaux enjeux entourant le projet Authier
[click to view]

REVIMAT; Projet minier Authier à La Motte, Abitibi
[click to view]

Radio-Canada Info; Amos, le paradis de l’eau douce menacé?
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rodrigue Turgeon, co-porte-parole Comité citoyen de protection de l'esker (CCPE), Marc Nantel, porte-parole Regroupement Vigilance Mines de l'Abitibi et du Témiscamingue (REVIMAT)
Last update08/07/2021
Conflict ID:5597
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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