Using a qualitative approach, researchers consider how Malartic residents have experienced changes in their community resulting from the development of an open pit mine and the effects of these changes on quality of life and social dynamics. They also collected residents’ opinions about risk management, their perceptions about health risks and their hopes and outlook for the future.
The main findings of the study are as follows:
- The arrival of the Canadian Malartic mine improved the quality of life for certain residents and revitalized the economy.
- The announcement and subsequent development of the mine had psychological impacts leading to feelings of distress, anger, demotivation, resignation and loss of trust in authority.
- The mine also had social impacts, including increased inequality between residents, conflict and community polarization.
- Among the social impacts, the two most often mentioned by respondents were the relocation of over 200 buildings to make way for the mine and the reconfiguration of local powers.
- For many, the blasting, the increase in dust, traffic and noise and the spatial reconfiguration of the municipality were major disturbances and a source of health worries.
- According to the Malartic residents interviewed, risks were not managed in keeping with the public health guidelines, especially with respect to openness, transparency, equity and caution.
- The majority of people interviewed for the study have little confidence in Malartic’s future after the mine closes, and note that little has been done in preparation.
These findings can be used to improve individual and community health as mining operations continue in Malartic, and can also serve for other mining projects in Québec.