Nunavut regulator sets up meetings next month on uranium and gold projects
NIRB plans to visit Baker Lake in September for public consultation
The Nunavut Impact Review Board is coming to Baker Lake in the hope that residents will tell them how they feel about gold and uranium mining.
On Sept. 4, NIRB staff will visit that Kivalliq community to hold an open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the community hall so people can offer their opinions and ask questions about the ongoing monitoring of Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine.
Meadowbank, connected to Baker Lake by a 110-km all-weather road, is currently Nunavut’s only operational mine. It began producing gold in 2010 and is expected to continue producing until at least 2017.
Roughly 250 of Meadowbank’s 700 staff are Inuit and Inuit women make up about one third of those.
Also on Sept. 4, at 6:30 p.m., members of the NIRB will hold an evening meeting and presentation at the community hall on Areva Resources Canada’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine.
Board staff will provide an update on the on-going review of the uranium mine proposal, what will happen next in the approval process and how members of the public can participate in those next steps.
According to documents filed with the NIRB, several groups have been expressing concerns about the potential impacts of the mine on the land and the animals, especially caribou herds in Nunavut’s interior.
Those groups include local hunters and trappers, the Athabasca Denesuline First Nation, and the Beverly Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board.
A map filed with the NIRB shows the Kiggavik site, west of Baker Lake, smack dab in the middle of a number of caribou herds including the Beverly, Qamanirjuaq, Wager Bay, Lorillard and Ahiak herds.
The closest calving grounds for these herds appear to be roughly 60 km east and north of the site, according to the map.
The Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization said in a letter submitted to the NIRB in April that they will “consider” supporting the Kiggavik proposal if five conditions are met.
Those conditions include a ban on mining and exploration in caribou calving and post-calving grounds and areas of “cultural importance” to the Inuit of Baker Lake.
“Baker Lake HTO must be involved in mine inspections,” the letter says. “Inspections must be random, without prior notice given to Areva.”
The NIRB expects Areva to submit its final environmental impact statement by the end of September 2014.
This means final public hearings on the project will likely go forward in 2015.
The Kiggavik site, about 80 km west of Baker Lake, is estimated to contain about 51,000 tonnes of uranium. The company has set a “potential” start of construction in 2017