Nunavut board releases to-do list for Kiggavik final hearing

Starting March 2, NIRB to hold six days of technical sessions, six days of community roundtables


This map shows the approximate location of Areva's Kiggavik project. (FILE IMAGE)

This map shows the approximate location of Areva’s Kiggavik project. (FILE IMAGE)

Areva Canada's 10,000-page multi-volume final environmental impact statement for the Kiggavik uranium project will sit at the centre of a final public hearing that the Nunavut Impact Review Board will hold at the Baker Lake community hall starting March 2. (IMAGE COURTESY OF AREVA CANADA)

Areva Canada’s 10,000-page multi-volume final environmental impact statement for the Kiggavik uranium project will sit at the centre of a final public hearing that the Nunavut Impact Review Board will hold at the Baker Lake community hall starting March 2. (IMAGE COURTESY OF AREVA CANADA)

A view of part of the Kiggavik exploration camp, from around 2009. (FILE PHOTO)

A view of part of the Kiggavik exploration camp, from around 2009. (FILE PHOTO)

The 12-day public hearing in Baker Lake for Areva Canada’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine will provide six full days for invited community members to pose questions, the Nunavut Impact Review Board said in a Feb. 20 letter.

And the board also wants Areva and various intervenors to provide plain language summaries of their presentations to help community representatives participate.

That, and more, is contained in the NIRB’s final agenda for the hearings, set to run at the Baker Lake community hall from March 2 until March 14.

It’s a quasi-judicial process, conducted in front of the full board, with sworn evidence from oral witnesses and recorded exhibits.

Areva Canada proposes to spend at least $2.1 billion to construct the mine, which has been at the exploration stage for decades.

The Kiggavik scheme would comprise four open pits and one underground operation, with an estimated lifespan of about 14 years.

But Areva Canada has already suggested the company won’t press the start button on the project until the market price of uranium improves.

Despite the economic uncertainties that cloud the project’s future, Areva still wants to take the project through the permitting phase so the company can be ready to go if its bean-counters calculate the project is economically viable.

The final hearings next month will focus on Areva’s massive 10,000 page, multi-volume final environmental impact statement, or FEIS, completed in October 2014.

The first six days of the final hearing will feature technical hearings, starting with two full days of presentations from Areva, divided into nine 40-minute chunks.

In the first 40-minute chunk, Areva will present a general overview.

In the eight segments to follow, Areva staff will work their way through eight subject areas covered in the company’s final environmental impact statement, or FEIS.

That will include material related to the atmospheric, terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.

Areva will also cover socio-economic impacts, human health issues, preparation for accidents and malfunctions, as well as public participation and engagement with the project.

On Day 3 of hearing, March 4, intervenors will take their turn as witnesses. They’ll start off that day with a joint 60-minute presentation from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Kivalliq Inuit Association.

After that, a representative from the Government of Nunavut will speak for 60 minutes, followed by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

After each intervenor appears, the review board will make time for questions from board members, other intervenors and the proponent.

On Day 4, March 5, it’s essentially the same drill, this time with witnesses from Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada.

And at the end of the day March 4, the board will take evidence from the Hamlet of Baker Lake and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization.

On Day 5, the board will hear from the Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit uranium-skeptic advocacy group, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation of the Northwest Territories and from Paula Kigjugalik Hughson, a graduate student and environmental researcher from Baker Lake.

And on the last day of technical hearings, March 7, representatives from the Athabasca Denesuline of northern Saskatchewan and the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board will appear.

On Sunday, March 8, the review board will take the day off.

But on March 9, they’ll get back at it, this time with community roundtable sessions.

To ensure public input at those sessions, the board has invited five representatives from each of seven potentially affected communities.

Those reps will participate directly within the roundtables. As well, other members of the public may speak if they notify the NIRB chairperson.

On the first day, Areva will provide plain language summaries on a number of key issues, followed by questions from intervenors and community representatives.

Those summaries will covers subjects such as environmental management plans, the transport of yellowcake by air to Points North, Sask., issues connected to roads, marine shipping and facilities at Baker Lake, as well as the Kiggavik and Sissons mine sites.

On March 10, March 11 and March 12, the same intervenors who appeared at the technical hearings will weigh in with their own summary presentations, followed by questions and answers.

The NIRB will devote Friday, March 13 to presentations by members of the public and on March 14, Areva reps, intervenors and community members will make closing remarks.

At the same time, the NIRB has imposed strict conditions on broadcasters who want to make audio or video recordings at the final hearing.

Any filming must be done with a single camera and no special lighting. Cameras must be mounted at fixed location and may not be moved when the hearing is in session.

That means videographers won’t be allowed to walk around to make shots from creative angles.

Media may not record any audio or video when the hearing is not in session, such as during breaks, recesses or adjournments.

And media firms must also provide the NIRB, all parties at the hearings and members of the public with access to a full unedited copy of their recordings.

They are also not allowed to make any edits of their material “which might misrepresent the testimony of any hearing participants.” The NIRB does not define what they mean by “misrepresent.”

“All best efforts should be made to ensure the filming is not disruptive, intrusive or otherwise interfering with the ability of participants in the final hearing to participate as they would choose,” the review board said in a letter issued Feb. 23.

NIRB: Agenda for final public hearing on Kiggavik project

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