The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Canada Carbon has offered his response to a decision by the Grenville-sur-la-Rouge council to not support the company’s latest application to the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) to develop the Miller graphite mine. Council has also requested the CPTAQ reject Canada Carbon’s application.

CEO Ellerton Castor said the company is disappointed with council’s May 2 decision and rejects its allegation that the application to the CPTAQ was incomplete.

Canada Carbon believes that the application provided to the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) contained all the necessary information and was complete,” Castor said.

“The company is currently reviewing the decision and will decide on its next course of action.”

He contended the project proposed under the new application is less invasive because it focuses strictly on graphite mining, and not the secondary activity of operating a marble quarry on the Miller site, which was part of the previous application.

This demonstrates the company’s openness to being responsive to the concerns of the municipality,” Castor said.

He said Canada Carbon has previously expressed an interest in good relations with the municipality. Castor attended a council meeting in December 2021, but no forum was provided to answer questions from residents and councillors.

“We attended at the invitation of the mayor,” Castor said.

He also told the municipality the company is interested in holding public meetings to inform residents about their plans.

“I’ve tried my level best to reset the relationship between the company and the municipality,” remarked Castor.

In February 2020, Canada Carbon, the municipality, and the CPTAQ reached an agreement, which was approved by the Québec Superior Court, to engage in dialogue about the proposed mine. That agreement also resolved a $96 million lawsuit Canada Carbon had launched against the municipality for council’s previous actions to stop Canada Carbon’s first application to the CPTAQ. Castor said council’s decision on May 2 goes against that agreement.

Castor said Canada Carbon wants a positive relationship with the municipality and stakeholders within the scope of the 2020 legal agreement.

“As such, the company has taken measures to avoid any further contention and urges both parties to respect the obligations set forth in the signed agreement in February 2020,” he said.

“What we don’t want is to have a replay of the litigation that took place three years ago,” Castor added. Instead, he wants the 2020 agreement to be respected to ensure the CPTAQ’s consent.

He said ultimately, the municipality cannot decide if a mining project should proceed, or not. That responsibility rests with the Québec government, particularly the ministries of the environment and natural resources.

“While the municipality has raised concerns regarding the application, it’s important to recognize that they may not possess the necessary expertise to evaluate the extent and implications of the request,” Castor remarked.

He further explained that Canada Carbon has been working closely with provincial authorities to ensure that all necessary requirements are met, and all concerns are addressed.

“The company is committed to following all regulations and requirements set forth by the province to ensure that the project is completed within Québec’s regulatory framework,” Castor emphasized.

Concerns and camp

As for the environmental concerns voiced by Grenville-sur-la-Rouge residents, Castor said Canada Carbon is taking them seriously.

“Canada Carbon is committed to upholding its environmental and social responsibilities, including addressing concerns raised about the protection of nearby wetlands and the impact the mining operation may have on Camp Amy Molson,” he said.

Castor said the camp is approximately 1.1 kilometres from the mine, and not immediately next to it.

We are confident that our proposed mining operation can coexist with the nearby wetlands and will not have a significant impact on the camp,” he said.

Castor added that studies done by Canada Carbon have shown there would not be any significant impact on the area from noise and dust.

“Specifically, the sound impact study conducted shows that noise impact would be minimal, and there would be no dust impact on the neighboring area,” he said.

Canada Carbon wants to emphasize the economic and social benefits their Miller project could have for the community.

“We understand the economic hardship this community is going through,” Castor said.

He believes the project, along with community investments by the company such as scholarships and donations, could advance the economic and social development of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and the surrounding region.

Canada Carbon CEO Ellerton Castor. From Canada Carbon website.