Nunavut regulators: it’s all over for Uravan’s uranium exploration project
"It is apparent that the NIRB cannot proceed with this Review as required under the NLCA"
CAMBRIDGE BAY — Nunavut has one less mining project to plan for and worry about.
On Oct. 1, the Nunavut Impact Review Board pulled the plug on Uravan Minerals Inc.‘s Garry Lake uranium exploration project.
Uravan had been dragging its feet on producing an environmental impact statement, the next step in the review process.
Last April, Uravan gave the NIRB a status update, which said the cost and time to complete an EIS conforming with the EIS guidelines would be “cost prohibitive.”
“The Board has reached an impasse in the Review process,” the NIRB wrote Oct. 1 to John Duncan, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
The proposed project involved exploration for uranium deposits, including constructing permanent and temporary camps, diamond drilling, prospecting, mapping and geochemical ground sampling in the Thelon Basin.
The project was located in the Garry Lakes area of Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, within the traditional caribou calving grounds for the Beverly Caribou herd, 235 kilometres from Baker Lake.
The NIRB first received the Garry Lake project proposal in January 2008, with supporting applications from the Kivalliq Inuit Association and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
In the NIRB’s 2008 screening decision, the board recommended that the project proposal undergo an intensive review under Part 5 or 6 of Article 12 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
That’s because the project could have “significant adverse effects on the ecosystem, wildlife habitat or Inuit harvesting activities; adverse socio-economic effects on northerners; and would cause significant public concern.”
So, the NIRB asked for a full EIS for Uravan’s Garry Lake exploration project — a big job that’s usually only for a full-blown mine project, not an exploration project.
The review board wanted to know more about the possible impacts of the activities on caribou, predators, migratory birds, people, the land, water and air.
The review board also asked the company to spell out its plans for exploration, site preparation, transportation, the storage of hazardous materials, water and waste management.
In October 2008, the NIRB conducted the project scoping meetings, EIS guidelines workshop and comment and review process on the draft EIS guidelines, with the NIRB issuing the final EIS guidelines for the project on February 2009.
But, now, three years later, the Garry Lake exploration project has fallen off the NIRB’s radar.
“On the basis of the 2012 status update it is apparent that the NIRB cannot proceed with this Review as required under the NLCA,” the NIRB said Oct. 1. “The next stage in the NIRB process is the preparation and submission of an EIS in conformity with the EIS Guidelines and, since February 2010, the Proponent has firmly established that it is unwilling/unable to prepare an EIS.”