Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 22, 2016 - 8:30 am

New AEM gold project needs full environmental review: Nunavut board

NIRB says Whale Tale open pit proposal’s too big for amendments to Meadowbank’s project certificate

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
This section of a map contained in the project description that Agnico Eagle submitted for its Whale Tail project shows the location of the proposed Whale Tail pit in relation to Meadowbank and Baker Lake.
This section of a map contained in the project description that Agnico Eagle submitted for its Whale Tail project shows the location of the proposed Whale Tail pit in relation to Meadowbank and Baker Lake.

If you’re a resident of the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, especially Baker Lake, there’s a full-blown environmental review likely headed your way.

It would look at Agnico Eagle’s Whale Tail pit project, located about 50 kilometres northwest of the Meadowbank gold mine and about 150 km north of Baker Lake, on which the company proposes the extraction of an estimated 8.3 million tonnes of ore.

Agnico Eagle proposes starting the project in late 2018 and operating an open pit mine there for about three years, after which closure activities would occur between 2019 and 2022.

Because Agnico Eagle wants to truck the ore to its existing mill at Meadowbank, they are not proposing any milling or other processing facilities at the site.

In their project application, the company suggested that the review board could handle the Whale Tail proposal as part of the existing Meadowbank mine, and approve it through amendments to the existing project certificate for Meadowbank.

But the NIRB disagreed, and this past July 21, informed the company that under the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, or NuPAA, as well as the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the project should get a separate screening.

And on Aug. 18, the NIRB released the result of their screening: that Whale Tail should get a full environmental assessment under Section 12.4.4(b) of the NLCA and Section 89(1)(a)(i) of the NuPPA.

The project involves one open pit within Agnico Eagle’s highly promising Amaruq property and accommodation for 210 workers.

The company also proposes a power plant, a helipad, a maintenance shop, a bulk fuel storage area, a waste rock storage area, a crushing facility and a laydown area.

They will also de-water the northern end of Whale Tail lake by building dikes and do a fish-out of the area to be de-watered.

At the same time, the company will use existing infrastructure at Meadowbank.

In addition to the mill, they’ll also use the Meadowbank tailings storage facility, the marshaling facility at Baker Lake and the all-weather road from Baker Lake to Meadowbank.

The NIRB has sent its recommendation to Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, as well as other federal cabinet ministers. When the federal government approves that recommendation, the environmental review will get started.

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