James Bay lithium mine wins approval in Canada

January 17, 2023

Canada approved Allkem Galaxy Resources’ James Bay lithium project in northern Quebec, but the project must adhere to 271 conditions including measures designed to project wildlife and other natural resources used by the Cree First Nation.

The Financial Post reported that environment minster Steven Guilbeault announced that the company and the Eastmain Cree agreed to the terms. Among those, Galaxy Lithium will need to ensure that traditional food sources for the communities living in the region remain safe by conducting regular tests.

The James Bay mine must also pass an environmental assessment from the provincial government which is still ongoing.

“Critical minerals are one of the keys to building Canada’s low-carbon economy,” Guilbeault said in a press release. “We can only develop those resources by designing from the outset with strong mitigation measures to protect the environment and working in true partnership with Indigenous Peoples.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several of his provincial counterparts have been selling Canada as an important node in the shift to electric vehicles, boasting that the country’s mineral wealth will be a competitive advantage.

Canada, the United States and other nations are looking to wean themselves off supply chains of critical minerals from China.

In its critical minerals strategy released in December, Canada listed lithium as one of the top six critical minerals, along with graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and rare earth elements, due to its importance in the clean technology sector.

The environmental assessment of the James Bay project began in 2017 and was conducted by a joint committee including the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Cree Nation Government.

In the executive summary of the report, the committee said that while the project “could lead to cumulative residual effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, including effects on navigation, which may have cumulative effects on access to the practice of rights,” the effects would not be significant considering the mitigation measures.

The mine is expected to run for about 15 to 20 years and produce more than 5 kt/d (5,500 stpd) of ore. It will include an open-pit mine, tailings, waste rock and a concentrator. The project is expected to employ about 280 workers during construction and an average of 170 workers during the mine’s operation, according to the government.

Photo: Allkem’s James Bay project in northern Quebec. Credit Allkem.



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