Canada Carbon is making another attempt to develop a graphite mine in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and the municipality is not in favour.

On March 20, the company announced it had commenced submission of its revised application to the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) for approval of its Miller Graphite Project.

The company is hoping to mine graphite for use in nuclear reactors. as energy policymakers and utility companies seek to increase the number of nuclear power plants to meet growing demands for electricity.

On Friday, March 17, Canada Carbon submitted what it describes as a complete project description to the Municipal Inspector of Grenville Sur La Rouge. The municipality is required, within 45 days from the date of submission, to review the application and attest that it conforms with municipal bylaws, before forwarding it to the CPTAQ. 

Grenville-sur-la-Rouge council held a special meeting held on Tuesday, May 2 and adopted a resolution against the application, claiming it does not conform to municipal bylaws and would not protect surrounding agricultural land uses. The resolution requests the CPTAQ reject the application. Mayor Tom Arnold read the lengthy resolution and a subsequent press release summarizing council’s decision.

According to the municipality, in 2021, independent experts commissioned by the municipality, including an agronomist, forest engineer and a hydrogeologist, raised issues with the project, which the CPTAQ recognized. Those issues are one of the reasons the CPTAQ refused Canada Carbon’s previous request to operate a graphite and a marble quarry at the Miller site in 2021.

The municipality alleges Canada Carbon’s new request reveals issues that should lead to another refusal by the CPTAQ. The municipality is of the opinion that the request constitutes only a request for carrying out additional studies, but it does not, however, specify the studies that Canada Carbon wishes to undertake, how it will conduct them, or why they are necessary.

Canada Carbon already conducted studies at the Miller site in 2022 with the authorization of the CPTAQ.

The municipality therefore believes the application is too imprecise and incomplete to be authorized.

“There’s information missing from the application,” said Councillor Isabelle Brisson at the May 2 meeting.

Grenville-sur-la-Rouge contends Canada Carbon’s proposal ignores the characteristics of the environment, would negatively impact soil used for agricultural purposes, and damage nearby forests used to produce maple sugar products. The resolution adopted by council alleges the company has not adequately specified which maple forests would be cut down during the establishment of the mine.

Canada Carbon is also hoping to establish a graphite mine near Notre-Dame-de Laus, located between Buckingham and Mont-Laurier.

The size of territory under the new project is 85 hectares. The previous project was to contain 57 hectares.

Remarks from residents

Camp Amy Molson, a summer camp for children from inner city Montréal neighbourhoods, is just north of the proposed graphite mine. Resident Catherine McConnell was among the 24 people in the audience at the May 2 meeting. She expressed concern the mine would hinder the experience for campers.

“This is what they (the children) are going to experience,” lamented McConnell.

Resident France Laflamme told The Review she was concerned how the previous project could affect the well that provides water to her home.

“It’s closer again,” Laflamme said, due to the larger territory of the new application.

Candace Robinson, another resident, is concerned about how the mine could affect water resources.

“What they didn’t say is anything about how it will affect the Calumet River,” she remarked.

Lac McGillivray Association President Lorraine Tondreau said the mine would disturb the natural beauty, and tranquility of the lake that families have enjoyed for generations at their chalets on the lake.

Signage opposing the Miller graphite mine in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge. Photo: James Morgan