Letter from Grise Fiord to AANDC expresses concerns with proposed coal exploration

The Hunters and Trappers Organization, Hamlet Council and Community Lands and Resources Committee from Grise Fiord sent a letter to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on February 14, 2013. The letter expressed concern and opposition to proposed coal exploration, due in part to the location of the proposed activity in important wildlife habitat and hunting grounds.

The letter can be accessed here.

Coverage from Nunatsiaq News can be accessed here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Review board announces next steps for review of AREVA’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine

On February 6, 2013 the Nunavut Impact Review Board announced that they have approved AREVA’s responses to Information Requests. This announcement marks the commencement of the technical review of AREVA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Included in the announcement was information about the next steps in the review process, including technical comments, technical meetings, a pre-hearing conference and a community round table session. The following timetable was included in the announcement.

February 6, 2013: Commencement of the 60 day public comment period. Parties are
asked to provide their technical review comments on a number of
specific points, outlined below.

February 27, 2013: NIRB to confirm dates for Technical Meeting and the PHC.

April 8, 2013: Submission of technical review comments to the NIRB by 12:00 pm
MST.

May 8, 2013: AREVA to provide response to technical review comments.

May 13, 2013: Circulation of draft agenda for the NIRB technical meeting.

May 28-31, 2013: Technical Meeting in Rankin Inlet (tentative). The objective of the
Technical Meeting would be to clarify and resolve technical issues in
the DEIS.

June 4-6, 2013: Community roundtable and Pre-Hearing Conference (PHC) in Baker
Lake (tentative).

July 4, 2013: NIRB to issue its PHC Report for the Kiggavik Project.

Information about each of these phases is available in English and Inuktitut.

A “process map” of the review, that includes anticipated timelines for each of these steps, is available in English and Inuktitut.

Information and commentary about Information Requests submitted to AREVA are available here.

AREVA’s responses to Information Requests are available here.

Links to more information about the review of AREVA’s Kiggavik proposal are available here.

Posted in Uncategorized

AREVA responds to information requests

AREVA has submitted its responses to Information Requests to the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

AREVA’s responses to Information Requests are available here.

More information and commentary about the Information Requests submitted by various organizations are available here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit supports Idle No More

Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit stands in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters who are standing up for their rights. We back Inuit organizing flash mobs in Iqaluit, marching in cities across Canada, and continuing to stand up in communities across Nunavut to voice their concerns about the pace and scale of resource development on our lands.

As the name of the movement suggests, the Idle No More protests are about more than grievances with recent Federal legislation. Broadly, they are about grassroots Indigenous peoples standing up and declaring that they will not sit idle while their rights to land and relationship with the state are being altered without their consent. In this way, Idle No More is a call for all Indigenous peoples to awaken from within and resist the oppressive mechanisms that keep them in their place.

Nunavummiut increasingly recognize that, despite our land claim, our rights are also at stake as part of the Indigenous community in Canada. Resource development projects are approved no matter what is being said by Nunavummiut, with little regard for the protection of land, community control over resources, or the incorporation of Inuit culture into decision-making processes that Inuit fought so hard to secure. The land claim agreement was about Inuit having a say on what happens to us and our land, we continue to stand up and demand better.

Many Nunavummiut support some mining proposals, but they also want to make decisions on their own terms, according to their own language, culture, and values, and in ways that ensure the long-term well-being of our nuna. Nunavummiut are deeply concerned that the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated have both passed pro-uranium mining policies without any public votes or proper discussion through a public inquiry. Impact and Benefit Agreements are negotiated with the mining industry in secret, without any public consultation. Reviews of mine proposals do not provide any opportunity for communities to vote on the proposals being considered. The review process does not require the mining industry to translate important documents into Inuktitut. Review schedules do not accord to Inuit seasonal activities, with meetings often taking place during the height of hunting seasons.

Nunavummiut expect better from our leaders and decision-makers than acceding to Harper’s agenda to exploit our lands. We encourage all Canadians to stand up and demand that our leaders revisit pro-uranium policies, engage in public consultations around Impact and Benefit Agreements, hold community plebiscites for all mining proposals and make more space for Inuit culture in environmental reviews.

Nunavummiut have expressed concerns that a draft land use plan for Nunavut, which the Nunavut Planning Commission is in the process of presenting to communities, does not contain any restrictions on mining in caribou calving grounds. The consultation schedule released by the planning commission does not seem to include an opportunity for communities to select lands they want protected from mining. If Nunavut really is to operate as an Inuit homeland, allowing Inuit to decide what lands they want protected should be the basis of land use planning.

We are also concerned about changing treaty relationships without proper consultation. The Northern Jobs and Growth Act, intended to implement parts of the land claims agreement and provide greater certainty to the mining industry, is currently making its way through parliament. The Government of Nunavut, the institutions of public government and the representative Inuit organizations have all been consulted over this legislation. However, there have been no consultations with communities in Nunavut. It seems precarious precedents are being set on our relationship with the state. Our leaders may well be negotiating away our land claims rights, without any public engagement from those they are supposed to serve.

Inuit have been standing up and demanding more transparent, accountable, and responsible forms of governance, and we recognize that our hopes for Nunavut will only be strengthened by standing in solidarity with all the other Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who are declaring that they will be idle no more. We urge our leaders to reorient development in Nunavut in a way that puts Inuit aspirations, and the well-being of the land and all Nunavummiut, ahead of corporate profits. Further, we hope our leaders will stand with us in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across Canada who are fighting for the well-being of all peoples and lands. Kanatammiut Makitagunarningit – the people of Canada can rise up!

[.pdf version]

Posted in Uncategorized

NIRB Report Shows Agnico-Eagle Still Not Meeting Commitments At Meadowbank Gold Mine

Lack of dust suppression on access road and dysfunctional groundwater monitoring raise questions about AREVA’s proposed mitigation and monitoring plans

The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) has uploaded its report from its annual site visit to the Meadowbank gold mine [1]. Meadowbank is an open-pit gold mine, located near Baker Lake Nunavut, owned and operated by Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd.

In its 2012 site visit report, NIRB notes several instances where Agnico-Eagle is not meeting the requirements laid out in its project certificate. Agnico-Eagle is not suppressing dust on its all weather access road between Baker Lake and the Meadowbank mine. Baker Lake residents have repeatedly complained about the level of dust the Meadowbank road produces. They have expressed concerns about the potential impacts of dust on the health of people, wildlife and plants. Some hunters are concerned that the dust and noise created by the all weather road is impacting caribou migrations and causing the caribou to avoid the Baker Lake area.

According to the project certificate for the Meadowbank gold mine, Agnico-Eagle is required to suppress dust on the access road. The NIRB report indicates that Agnico-Eagle has no intention of adhering to this condition of the project certificate. However, the report does not explain why Agnico-Eagle is not suppressing dust on the road.

It is important to note that AREVA is also seeking permission to build an all weather road near Baker Lake for their proposed Kiggavik uranium mine. In their draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), AREVA states that they will suppress dust on their access road. However, AREVA’s DEIS does not indicate how they will do this. It remains to be determined whether or not AREVA will encounter the same issues experienced by Agnico-Eagle.

The NIRB report also indicates that Agnico-Eagle continues to experience problems with groundwater monitoring. Since monitoring began, the wells Agnico-Eagle uses to sample groundwater have often been damaged by permafrost and are frequently off-line. During this site visit, only one well was operational.

Protection of groundwater is a key consideration at any mine site but is especially important at uranium mines like AREVA’s proposed Kiggavik Mine. Monitoring the groundwater at this project, if approved, would be very important as storing radioactive uranium tailings in permafrost is considered “experimental” and uranium mining is known to have contaminated groundwater in Canada [2] and elsewhere [3]. The apparent inability of Agnico-Eagle to properly monitor groundwater raises serious concerns about the ability of AREVA to adequately monitor the proposed Kiggavik Mine.

[1] Nunavut Impact Review Board 2012 site visit report for the Meadowbank gold mine

[2] For groundwater issues related to uranium mining in Canada, see: Cluff Lake Decommissioning Report

www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/41B79974-docs/report_e.pdf

[3]. For groundwater issues related to uranium mining in New Mexico

http://www.swhydro.arizona.edu/archive/V7_N6/ ;

For groundwater issues related to uranium mining in Australia

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/news/13904615/uranium-mine-tailings-leave-an-enduring-toxic-legacy/

Posted in Uncategorized

MLA Moses Aupaluktuq asks questions about the Government of Nunavut’s uranium policy and stance towards AREVA’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine

From the Nunavut Hansard, November 2, 2012

Item 6: Oral Questions

Question 466 – 3(3): Status of Kiggavik Project (Aupaluktuq)

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct my questions to the
Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Madam Premier Eva Aariak.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I tabled correspondence concerning the information response
timeline and the next steps for the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s review of the
proposed Kiggavik project near my community of Baker Lake.

During the spring sitting, I posed questions to the minister concerning her department’s
coordination of the Government of Nunavut’s submissions to the Nunavut Impact
Review Board in relation to its review of the proposed Kiggavik uranium project and
what the GN’s main concerns were in relation to the project. Can the minister update the
House on what the GN’s main concerns are in relation to the proposed Kiggavik uranium
mine project? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister responsible for Executive and
Intergovernmental Affairs, Madam Premier.

Hon. Eva Aariak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that Economic
Development and Transportation can respond to that question better because I don’t have
that information in front of me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Madam Premier. Redirecting that question to the Minister
responsible for Economic Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The GN department, there are a various
number of departments that participate in the hearings. At this point there are technical
hearings and GN submitted approximately 86 issues to the proponent for their review and
mitigation of the issues that the departments of GN have. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your first supplementary, Mr. Aupaluktuq.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the government’s response on
this. The Government of Nunavut’s Uranium Policy Statement was tabled on June 6 of
this year. One of the five principles is that “Uranium exploration and mining must have
the support of Nunavummiut with particular emphasis on communities close to uranium
development.” How will the government make a final determination as to whether or not
the community of Baker Lake supports this project? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister responsible for Economic Development
and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for that excellent
question. Mr. Speaker, we do have a process that’s outlined in the Nunavut Land Claims
Agreement. The Nunavut Impact Review Board reviews all the information that comes in
and makes that determination based on facts. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your second supplementary, Mr. Aupaluktuq.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s my understanding that the Department of
Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs was to submit its responses to information
requests made by Makita, the Beverly Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, the
Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, and the Kivalliq Inuit Association by September
7, 2012. Can the minister indicate if the government has provided its responses? Thank
you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister of Economic Development and
Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Throughout the process, the regulatory
process was conducted by the Nunavut Impact Review Board. The information requests
flow through them and the information requests from Makita is not necessarily within the
scope for the Nunavut Impact Review Board to determine. We welcome the
organizations to come to the Government of Nunavut with their issues or questions.
That’s where the information requests can be handled from. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your final supplementary, Mr. Aupaluktuq.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the response. To quote my
colleague here based on facts with respect to language rights and the spirit of the Nunavut
Land Claims Agreement, the intent of Nunavut, as well as fundamental rights, such as
democracy, the general public view and their concern for the environment, the very
nature and core of uranium mining and its concerns for Nunavummiut is a concern in
various thought perspectives, whether it be pro or con.

For example, the minister indicated that there are 86 issues, but as well, in the process,
for example, terminology and thousands of pages are to be reviewed. The future of our
youth has expressed opposition and concern for the environment and well-being. On the
other spectrum, the present businesses have expressed to those who raise awareness as
possibly being opposed to creating employment and economic benefits to businesses.

My question is: will this government review, revisit, or reconsider a public call for an
open forum on the Kiggavik project? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister responsible for Economic Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Posted in Uncategorized

MLA Ron Elliott seeks clarification regarding the Government of Nunavut’s uranium policy

From the Nunavut Hansard, October 26, 2012

Question 433 – 3(3): Government of Nunavut’s Uranium Policy (Elliott)

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct my
questions to the Minister of Economic Development and Transportation.

On June 6, 2012, the minister tabled the Government of Nunavut’s
uranium policy statement. In that statement, it clarified that the
Government of Nunavut will support the exploration and mining of
uranium subject to five principles. My questions are based around
those principles.

Mr. Speaker, Principle 2 of the Government of Nunavut’s uranium policy
states that “Nunavummiut must be the major beneficiaries of uranium
exploration and mining activities.” My question to the minister is:
what policies or mechanisms does the Government of Nunavut have in
place to ensure this will occur? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Economic
Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for
that question. Mr. Speaker, it’s written down quite clearly in the
Parnautit strategy for mining and we use those on a case-by-case
basis. That strategy is used by all proponents, all companies, and
throughout the regulatory processes that NIRB goes through with the
proponents and all interested parties. It states that very clearly
there. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your first supplementary, Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Principle 5 states that “Uranium
exploration and mining must have the support of Nunavummiut, with
particular emphasis on communities close to uranium development.” Can
the minister describe what would constitute support for Nunavummiut
and the affected communities? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister for Economic Development and
Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The process is set out
quite clearly in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement through the
regulatory process. If there’s any indication that the project is not
going to be beneficial to Nunavummiut, whether people are going to be
affected, the environment, wildlife, and if the project is not
sustainable, of course, we do have a process that goes through the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, that being NIRB that goes through the
environmental regulations and processes, and have close consultations
with the communities. The process is based on that. Thank you, Mr.
Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your second supplementary, Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. NTI has a very comprehensive
uranium mining policy, of which certain financial agreements and
arrangements have been attached to certain mining and exploration
companies. This was promised to be reviewed and when that review
occurred, no significant changes were made.

Obviously NTI is in support of uranium exploration, mining, and
development. Is this what the minister is referring to in regard to
support from the communities? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Economic
Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I didn’t necessary allude
to that. NTI has their own policy on uranium exploration and mining
and whatever they do there is up to
them. We abide by the land claims agreement environmental processes
and our own strategy that was developed for Nunavummiut in our
Parnautit strategy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your final supplementary, Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the minister is aware,
residents from Baker Lake, one of the affected communities close to
uranium development, and Grise Fiord had petitions that were
introduced into this House. Both did not support uranium mining.
Again, if the minister could clarify what the Government of Nunavut
means by Principle 5 of the Government of Nunavut’s Uranium Policy
Statement, which states that it will not move forward on uranium
development unless Nunavummiut support it Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Economic
Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, the processes of
environmental regulations and screening are through the Nunavut Land
Claims Agreement. The body of Nunavut Impact Review Board has an
obligation to consult with every community and determine and make
recommendations to the Minster of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development of Canada. Once all the facts are gathered, that’s when
NIRB makes a recommendation to the minister responsible for that.

If, throughout the process, there are indications of environmental
mitigations that can’t be handled by the proponent and if it’s not a
sustainable project, it’s not beneficial to Nunavummiut, those
determinations are made known to the public through the
recommendations of the Nunavut Impact Review Board to the Minister of
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Canada Thank you, Mr.
Speaker.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nunavut Impact Review Board distributes new timetable for review of AREVA’s proposal

On October 15, the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) distributed a revised timetable for the review of AREVA’s Kiggavik proposal. This timetable would put community hearings for AREVA’s draft Environmental Impact Statement in early June of 2013.

The review timeline can be accessed here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nunavut Impact Review Board concerned AREVA is delaying environmental review and omitting Information Requests

On September 20, the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) responded to AREVA’s indication that it will take until January of 2013 to respond to Information Requests. In the letter, the NIRB expressed concern that AREVA is delaying the environmental review process and that AREVA intends to omit an unspecified number of Information Requests.

“The Board notes that AREVA took approximately 7 months following the issuance of  EIS Guidelines to develop and submit its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to the  NIRB, followed by an additional 3 months to revise and re-submit  the  DEIS.  AREVA now intends to take an additional 7 months to formulate its responses, while clearly indicating that it does not intend to respond to a number of IRs that it believes should be omitted or deferred.

Recognizing that the NIRB previously issued comprehensive guidelines to AREVA for the development of its DEIS, as well as additional direction on information expectations prior to accepting the DEIS submission, 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 letter later added, “The Board cautions AREVA that sufficiently detailed IR responses are required to facilitate the efforts of all parties participating in the Review process.”

The NIRB’s letter to AREVA can be accessed here.

For a brief summary/discussion of the Information Requests sent to AREVA, click here.

For more information and documents related to the review of AREVA’s Kiggavik proposal, click here.

For Nunatsiaq News coverage of this story, click here.

Posted in Uncategorized

AREVA will take until 2013 to respond to Information Requests

In late June of 2012, various parties submitted Information Requests to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) related to AREVA’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake. Information Requests are questions, mostly addressed to AREVA, regarding their proposed uranium mine and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. [Click here for a brief discussion of the contents of the various Information Requests]

The NIRB initially scheduled three weeks for AREVA to respond to Information Requests. However, it did acknowledge that “more or less” time might be required for AREVA to respond.

On August 30, AREVA wrote to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, indicating that they will not be able to respond to information requests until January 31, 2013.

AREVA’s letter to the Nunavut Impact Review Board can be accessed here.

For more information and documents related to the review of AREVA’s Kiggavik proposal, click here.

Posted in Uncategorized