The provincial government of Quebec, Canada is set to commence a study for environmental impacts of uranium exploration and development in the province.

The government has appointed Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) to conduct the study starting next fall.

Environment minister Yves-Francois Blanchet has stated that the environment body has held all the uranium projects in the region until the completion of the impact study.

Meanwhile, the announcement has blocked the operational uranium projects of the companies including Strateco Resources and Virginia Energy Resources.

Strateco president and CEO Guy Hébert has condemned the move citing the minister’s attitude as irresponsible and unprecedented.

"In addition to overlooking the recommendations of his own review committee, the Minister has also completely ignored the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s expert opinion," added Hébert.

The announcement would unduly delay any certificate of approval for the Matoush project, the company added.

Virginia Resources stated, "Further exploration on Virginia Energy’s Otish Mountains uranium project will remain on hold while the Quebec government undertakes this evaluation."

However, the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) has welcomed the move stating that the province lacks consensus desirability of uranium mining.

CBI’s Regional Director Suzann Méthot stated: "There is consensus on the need for an independent review and public consultation on the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining before any such activities are permitted in the province."

The concerns over the industry were raised during the last year when mining at the James Bay Cree Nation was permanently blocked following the public hearings.