Nunavut board wants new project proposal for Bathurst port-road project
NIRB seeks more info on caribou, transboundary impacts, climate change
A new plan for the Bathurst road and port project in western Nunavut does not change the scope of a similar plan that was first developed in 2004 and then shelved, the Nunavut Impact Review Board said Feb. 11.
This means that a review of the project, which has been revived by two mining companies, won’t have to start from scratch.
But the NIRB wants the new project’s promoters, the mining companies Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. and Xstrata Zinc, to produce an updated version of their proposal for a deep water port at Bathurst Inlet and an all-weather road connecting the port to existing ice roads that serve the Ekati and Diavik mines.
This new proposal may be up to 150 pages long, and should contain more details on environmental issues, wildlife protection, marine and road traffic than an earlier version submitted to the NIRB last December, the regulator said Feb. 11.
That new proposal will determine the guidelines for the project’s future draft environmental impact statement.
The NIRB’s latest news on the project known as BIPAR or BIPR follows the receipt of comments from groups who pointed out shortfalls in the promoters’ recent proposal description.
The NIRB acknowledged that some “significant aspects” have changed since the original environmental impact statement guidelines were issued in 2004.
This means that any environmental impact statement for BIPAR should touch on such topics as caribou, cumulative effects, climate change and transboundary issues.
“Public concern associated with the potential for transboundary ecological and socioeconomic effects associated with potential impacts on the Bathurst caribou herd has heightened considerably,” the NIRB said in its Feb. 11 letter sent to Xstrata Zinc.
There’s also more and better baseline data associated with this herd — whose population numbers are thought to have decreased, the NIRB said.
As well, “awareness, understanding and data associated with climate change issues that are now expected to be included in environmental assessments,” it noted.
The NIRB now plans to determine what changes to EIS guidelines for the BIPAR project are required to reflect the “updated project scope, the evolution and refinement of environmental assessment practices and expectations.”
Once the NIRB receives the updated project description, the NIRB will start the job of reviewing the existing EIS guidelines and seeing what changes need to take place.