The Tansim open pit lithium mine project is located on the unceded ancestral territory of the community of Long Point First Nation (LPFN) of the Anicinabe First Nation, which counts over 800 members. This territory is included in the municipality of Moffet in Témiscamingue, in the province of Quebec, in Canada .
Owned by the junior Australian company Sayona Mining, this project is part of the wider objective of creating a "lithium pole" in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and in Nord-du-Québec, which would bring together several lithium pit mining projects including North American Lithium in La Corne, Authier Lithium in La Motte and the Moblan mine, north of Chibougamau .
The Tansim project site includes 350 claims covering more than 20,250 hectares along the north shore of Lake Simard. Geographically, these claims overlap on either side of the Ottawa River, the main tributary of the St. Lawrence River , with several claims including sensitive wetlands and waterways . Even while just scratching the surface of the Tansim project a number of significant risks of impacts on water emerge.
The location of the mining claims coincides with a territory heavily occupied by members of LPFN, on which they exercise their ancestral rights such as hunting, fishing, and gathering of medicinal plants.
Confronted by an imminent mining drilling campaign scheduled for the summer of 2021, the LPFN Council officially asked the Quebec government on May 12, 2021 to immediately suspend the mining rights of the Sayona Mining mining company on its ancestral territory. LPFN moreover called on the government to intervene by consulting with them separately from the mining company . The LPFN board considers that "mineral exploration drilling projects are likely to have a serious detrimental effect on the territory of the First Nation and the ancestral rights of its members" . The community bases its finding on a document from the company dated April 21, 2021 expressly indicating that shore, coastline, floodplain, marshes, swamps, ponds and peat bogs are all wetlands and bodies of water that would be affected if the planned mining activities saw the day .
In August 2021, the NAL mine located in La Corne in Abitibi was acquired by the same promoter as the Tansim mine. Following this, Sayona Mining has indicated that it wants to export the ore extracted from the Tansim project site to the NAL mine plant to process it at a distance of more than 100 kilometers from its place of origin. This approach raises important environmental issues associated with ore transport, noise, dust and pit backfilling.
Sayona Mining uses the discourse of the fight against climate change to promote the project, as shown by this statement by Guy Laliberté, CEO of Sayona Quebec: “We are going to make a major contribution to the fight against climate change. That too is a choice that must be considered. We are going to make fewer gasoline vehicles, more electric batteries. Overall, it's a gesture for the environment. We must see the consequences, certainly, it is not negligible, but the benefits are also there ”.
On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, the LPFN Board held an information session for its members dealing specifically with the Sayona Mining company project . Despite the health constraints, the event aroused great interest and good participation from members . Lasting two and a half hours, the vast majority of interventions raised several concerns about the project . A petition against the Tansim project which was launched in May 2021 by a member of the LPFN community had received over 22,000 signatures by October 8, 2021 .
For the LPFN community leader Steeve Mathias, the industry and the government would need to demonstrate that there is "no impact on our traditional way of life" and the First Nation would require an independent study to assess potential damage" . "The exploitation to get the minerals to produce those lithium batteries, how damaging is that going to be for the environment?" he said."Are we willing to sacrifice that just for the sake of electric cars? I'm not sure that's the right thing to do" .
Steeve Mathias also denounced the fact that, in his communications, Sayona Mining states that discussions are underway with the community to reach an agreement for the project. For the time being, instead, the company has only sent an offer of agreement to the First Long Point Nation in February 2021. However, the Band Council demands a consultation with the community before reaching an agreement. “It's not okay for them to make announcements, and say that everything is fine and then we were on the verge of making a deal. It's true that they sent an [offer] of a deal to the Director of Natural Resources in February 2021, but for the Council, it's on the shelf. We never bothered to even sit down and analyze this proposal ”: Steeve Mathias, Chief of the Long Point First Nation . The Long Point First Nation also insists that they don't want to be sacrificed, and that their way of life is priceless: “Our way of life is not for sale, regardless of how much money they offered. Of course, this is not the kind of sacrifice that the community is ready to make ” .
|Name of conflict:||Tansim open pit lithium mine project, Canada|
|State or province:||Témiscamingue, Québec|
|Location of conflict:||Moffet municipality|
|Accuracy of location||HIGH (Local level)|
|Type of conflict. 1st level:||Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction|
|Type of conflict. 2nd level:||Water access rights and entitlements|
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Mining exploration and/or ore extraction
Tailings from mines
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Located 82 kilometres south‐west of Sayona’s Authier project, Tansim hosts pegmatites at the Viau and Viau‐Dallaire prospects which were first identified in the 1950s. These deposits remained little explored until Sayona’s involvement in the project in January 2018. Since then, Sayona has consolidated and expanded the project claims so that they now represent the largest contiguous tenure any company has ever assembled in the area: includes 350 claims covering more than 20,250 hectares along the north shore of Lake Simar  .
Sayona’s 2019 drilling at the Viau Dallaire prospect (11 holes for 1219m) identified two pegmatites of 15m and 40m wide which remain open in all directions. An Exploration Target (refer note below) for the Viau‐Dallaire prospect has been estimated at around 5 million tonnes, at an estimated grade of 1.2‐1.3% Li2O, and 25 million tonnes, at an estimated grade of 1.2 – 1.3% Li2O (refer ASX release 19 November 2019)  .
A C$1.6 million (A$1.65 million) work program has been allocated for Tansim, comprising a Phase One 5,000m drill program, followed, if warranted, by a Phase Two work program to include a mineralogical study, metallurgical testwork and a Mineral Resource estimate  .
|Level of Investment for the conflictive project||N/A|
|Type of population||Rural|
|Affected Population:||800 (Community of Long Point First Nation of the Anishinabe people)|
|Start of the conflict:||12/05/2021|
|Company names or state enterprises:||Sayona Mining Limited from Australia - Mother company|
Sayona Québec inc. from Canada - Subsidiary company
|Relevant government actors:||Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC)|
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN)
|Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:||Conseil de Long Point First Nation|
|Intensity||MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)|
|Reaction stage||PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)|
|Groups mobilizing:||Indigenous groups or traditional communities|
Community of Long Point First Nation of the Anishinabe people
|Forms of mobilization:||Public campaigns|
|Environmental Impacts||Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Oil spills, 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|
|Socio-economical Impacts||Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place|
|Project Status||Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)|
|Conflict outcome / response:||Under negotiation|
|Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:||Not Sure|
|Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network|
|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)|
Map of projects in Quebec
Tansim projet claims
Source: Sayona Quebec
Simard Lake wich might be affected by Tansim project
Source: MRCT Témiscamingue
Simard Lake wich might be affected by Tansim project
Credit: Steeve Mathias