NIRB nixes caribou board request for new cumulative effect assessment on Kiggavik
“It’s just not the sort of requirement that the NIRB has the ability to impose”
The Nunavut Impact Review Board has rejected the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board’s proposal for a joint cumulative effect assessment of the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake.
The NIRB rejected the caribou board’s plea Aug. 16.
The BQCMB wanted to conduct its own cumulative effects assessment with the help of experts, funded by Areva Resources Canada, the proponents of Kiggavik.
Barring that, they wanted the NIRB to order Areva to re-do its own cumulative effect assessment.
The expert interveners proposed by the caribou board would have been made up of those who expressed concerns in information requests on Areva’s draft environmental impact assessment submitted last June.
They include Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, the Baker Lake Hunter’s and Trappers Organization, Makita, and the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Environment.
“A common theme is a need to reassess, expand and improve the cumulative effects assessment,” BQCMB secretariat Ross Thompson said in an letter to the NIRB.
“[Our] team would adopt an approach to CEA based on caribou herd annual ranges as the CE study area, use of scenarios and scaling up behavioral responses to the population level,” Thompson said.
“All of these are tested approaches accepted in other recent CEAs, for example, the recent CEA for the North Baffin caribou herd (Mary River Project.)”
But the NIRB is not prepared to agree to the caribou board’s proposal, executive director Ryan Barry said.
“This is not something that goes against a policy that the NIRB has, it’s just not the sort of requirement that the NIRB has the ability to impose upon a project proponent through the provisions of the Nunavut land claims agreement,” Barry told Nunatsiaq News in an email.
Areva is expected to supply additional information to address gaps in the draft environmental impact statement and the cumulative effects assessment in its response to 415 information requests.
This way, “parties have what they need to fully critique the Draft EIS and supply technical review comments to the NIRB for consideration,” Barry said.
“It would be premature at this point in the review to request that Areva revise the cumulative effects assessment within its draft EIS before all parties have had a chance to critique it through submission of technical review comments,” he said.
The shortcomings in Areva’s assessment that the CARC identified and the caribou board agrees with include:
• Potential or actual projects being excluded from the regional study;
• Development scenarios not being assessed;
• Only a narrow selection of effects was considered; and,
• Inuit Quajimajatuqangit not included in Areva’s work.
The Kiggavik project, about 80 kilometres from Baker Lake, 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.