Nunavut regulator gives Areva one week to commit to new review schedule
NIRB concerned that "Areva is planning to take an exceptional amount of time"
The Nunavut Impact Review Board sent a stern letter Sept. 20 to Areva Resources Canada Inc. after the company told the regulator it needs several more months to respond to many requests for information on its Kiggavik uranium mine project near Baker Lake.
That request caused the NIRB to rejig its entire timeline for the project’s review. In its letter, the NIRB asked Areva to confirm by Sept. 28 the new schedule, which is now delayed by a year.
The NIRB letter came after Areva said Aug. 30 that it intends to submit responses to information requests for the NIRB’s review of the Kiggavik project only by Jan. 31, 2013.
Generally, companies respond to these information requests, called IRs, within 30 days.
“The board is concerned that Areva is planning to take an exceptional amount of time to prepare responses to IRs, while also planning to omit and defer an unspecified number of responses,” the NIRB’s executive director, Ryan Barry, said in his Sept. 20 letter to Areva.
This is not the first delay in the process that Areva has sought.
Areva took about seven months following the issuance of environmental impact statement guidelines to develop and submit its draft EIS to the NIRB, followed by an additional three months to revise and re-submit the draft EIS. Areva now intends to take an additional seven months to formulate its responses, the NIRB said.
The NIRB said the impact assessment process must be both “timely and predictable to be effective and to meet the remaining timelines for the Kiggavik Review moving forward.”
In June, the NIRB received informaton requests from the Government of Nunavut , the Kivalliq Inuit Association, the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization, the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit, the Lutsle K’e Dene First Nation, the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and several federal government departments.
In its Sept. 20 letter, the NIRB also “cautions” AREVA that detailed responses to these requests are required “to facilitate the efforts of all parties participating in the Review process.”
“Difficulties in providing predictable review timelines has implications for public participation, and impacts the board’s ability to budget, plan for and coordinate the various stages in the Kiggavik Review with its other ongoing assessments,” the NIRB said.
Areva Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Areva group of companies in France, wants to build, operate and decommission a uranium mine, called the Kiggavik project, about 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake.
The company wants to extract uranium ore from open pits and an underground site, which would be processed at a mill, and then packaged and shipped out by air.
Sealifts and a winter access road would supply the mine site.
The mine, which would cost $2.1 billion to build over a four-year period and $240 million per year to operate, would generate up to 750 jobs during its construction and 600 jobs during its 14-year lifespan, as well as other indirect jobs.
Decommissioning would take another 10 years.
The delays in the review process also pushes back the start-up of the project, once set to begin construction in 2017 and to start production in 2020.