Uranium Exploration

Exploration includes activities such as clear cutting, surface stripping, trenching, drilling and blasting. The current Ontario Mining Act allows for surface stripping of large areas and the removal 1,000 tonnes of rock without requiring the mining company to restore the land. In Ontario exploration can begin with as little as 24 hours notice to landowners. After drilling, core samples are analyzed by geologists. It is worth noting that in the run-up to the 2007 provincial election, which Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal Party won, the Premier promised a full review of Ontario’s Mining Act.

In Quebec consent is required by the private landowner before exploration can proceed. If consent is not given, provision is given in the Mining Act for expropriation. The Ministry has verbally indicated that it will not support such expropriation procedures, however, this has not been tested in court.

Exploration of uranium can cause health risks to communities, especially those that already have high background levels of radiation. Taking rock samples can disturb uranium ore and release uranium into the biosphere. Once exposed to air and moisture, the composition changes – radioactive dust particles can spread by water and air. When drilling occurs, the exploration may disturb underground uranium deposits, which then can leach out into underground water reservoirs, potentially contaminating drinking water aquifers. At this point in time there is no requirement by federal or provincial legislation to monitor exploration for uranium in Ontario.