Media Advisory: (Ottawa/Iqaluit) MiningWatch Canada’s Canada Program Coordinator, Ramsey Hart, is on his way to Iqaluit today on the request of the Nunavut non-profit group Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit (Makita for short). Over the next ten days he will be participating with Makita in two different consultation processes on uranium mining in Nunavut.
The first consultation is organized by the Government of Nunavut to help it form a policy on uranium mining. Presentations and discussion in three communities and online via a new web site will provide residents of Nunavut with information about the issues associated with uranium and an opportunity to let the government hear their views.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the Inuit development corporation created under the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement, is also reviewing its position on uranium mining at its upcoming Board meeting.
While the territorial government and NTI grapple with the broader question of uranium mining in Nunavut, Areva’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine project is undergoing an environmental impact assessment under the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), including public consultation on draft guidelines for the project’s environmental impact study. Hart will participate in these consultations, which are being held March 22 to 24 in Baker Lake, the community closest to the Kiggavik deposit.
The original proposal for an open-pit uranium mine was resoundingly rejected by the community in a 1990 plebiscite. Areva later took over the property and has worked hard to obtain local support for the project. Notwithstanding this support, Makita and others continue to have considerable concerns about the project, including:
- the capacity and ability of territorial and federal regulators to effectively monitor and control the immediate and long-term impacts of the project;
- the cumulative impacts of effectively opening an entire region to industrial development;
- the long-term management of radioactive and contaminated mine waste;
- the impacts on caribou and other elements of the regional food web, permafrost, and water quality; and
- the ability of the Nunavut economy and workforce to benefit from another major mineral development on the heels of the recently-opened Meadowbank mine.
MiningWatch Canada maintains a position calling for a halt to further expansion of uranium mining given its environmental risks, and those associated with the entire nuclear fuel chain. Our concerns have been made all the more salient given the current nuclear crisis in Japan. Canada supplies the country with 26% of its uranium.
Contact: Ramsey Hart (613) 614-9937 (mobile) or Jamie Kneen (613) 569-3439 (office)