GN responds to Makita’s questions on Nunavut’s Kiggavik uranium project
Public vote issue “outside the scope of an environmental impact assessment for the Kiggavik project”
The Government of Nunavut has responded to an information request from anti-uranium group Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit regarding Areva Resources Canada’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine, located 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake.
In its information request, Makita said “Nunavummiut will obviously not be the major beneficiaries of the Kiggavik proposal,” and asked if that conflicts with the GN’s policy on uranium mining in Nunavut.
The GN expressed conditional support for uranium mining in the last sitting of the legislative assembly in June in a statement of five main principles.
The GN defended Nunavut’s mining sector in its response to Makita, saying more resource development will benefit Nunavut and the rest of Canada economically.
“Nunavut’s mining sector represents a quarter of the territory’s economy,” the GN said. “In both 2010 and 2011 Nunavut’s economic growth was the highest in Canada.”
The GN’s response also states that Nunavut is the fourth best jurisdiction in Canada for mineral exploration investment, which “illustrates the importance of mining in Nunavut and the national economy.”
“Mining in Nunavut is also important to Nunavut itself; if even a small number of exploration projects go on to be developed as mines, they will represent a tremendous opportunity for employment and economic development for the territory,” the response said.
The GN also said some of Makita’s information requests are “outside the scope of an environmental impact assessment for the Kiggavik project.”
The questions Makita posed to the GN in the information request include the following:
• Why was a public vote not held before adopting pro-uranium mining policies?
• If Inuit in Baker Lake vote “no” to the proposed Kiggavik mine, will the institutions addressed revise their policies regarding uranium mining accordingly?
• Has the GN researched which countries’ nuclear programs uranium from Nunavut may be used in? Did this include research into how “environmentally responsible” the nuclear programs in each potential receiving country are?
To these, the GN referred Makita to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and a 2011 report called What was said about Uranium in Nunavut.
In the report, the GN list what the 107 participating members said during public forums on the uranium issue in Baker Lake and Cambridge Bay.
The Nunavut Planning Commission also responded to the question of a public vote in Nunavut on uranium.
The commissition said if the Kivalliq Inuit Association, the Hamlet of Baker Lake, and three or more hamlets representing the affected area passed a motion in support of uranium mining, then they would be “satisfied.”
“How these approvals are coordinated; by industry, government or KIA is up to the hamlets,” the NPC’s response said.
The Kiggavik project would extract uranium ore from four open pits and one underground mine.
Areva estimates its capital cost at $2.1 billion and says up to 750 jobs would be created in the construction phase, and up to 1,300 direct and indirect jobs during production.