Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut July 05, 2012 - 9:53 am

Agencies pepper Areva with questions about Nunavut uranium mine

“The documentation has not met the GN’s expectations”


Fifteen public and private organizations have sent 415 detailed information requests to the Nunavut Impact Review Board on the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine’s draft environmental impact statement prepared by the proponent, Areva Resources Canada.

The period for receipt of such information requests ended June 29.

Many of them were highly critical of Areva’s draft EIS, which spells out the potential negative effects that the project would inflict on the environment, economy, and society, with the company’s proposals for mitigating them.

For example, Areva’s draft EIS is “not sufficient,” the Government of Nunavut said. 

The GN’s Department of Intergovernmental Affairs made the greatest number of information requests, totalling 86.

“There is consensus across the government departments reviewing the Draft EIS that the documentation has not met the GN’s expectations in terms of the level of detail regarding commitments to project design and mitigation or analysis,” Pauloosie Suvega, an assistant deputy minister at EIA, said in the GN’s submission.

In the last session of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, a uranium policy was established that is seen as a “balanced” approach to uranium mining, Suvega said. 

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Kivalliq Inuit Association were also critical of the draft EIS and submitted 32 information requests.

“The uncertainty of several key components for the project creates variables that have significant impacts,” said the KIA director of lands, Luis Gerardo Manzo, and the senior advisor for environmental, water and marine management at NTI, George Hakongak.

“Overall the current EIS document is incomplete, in that large components of the project are still undecided, and therefore handicap any definitive assessment of the project’s suitability,” the information request said.

The independent watchdog group Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit, known as “Makita,” submitted 20 information requests on economic modeling and environmental impacts.

Recently, Makita has criticized Areva over socioeconomic information of the draft EIS. They also call into question the NIRB for its methods of handling the review process.

“Some concern exists regarding whether or not the Nunavut Impact Review Board has the capacity to properly assess a proposal of this magnitude,” Makita said

This is the second version of the Kiggavik draft environmental statement.

The next step is for Areva to reply to the information requests, which could take three weeks.

After this, a 60-day technical review by the NIRB begins, scheduled for Aug. 1.

The Kiggavik project, about 80 kilometres from Baker Lake, would extract uranium ore from four open pits and one underground mine.

Areva estimates the capital cost at $2.1 billion and says up to 750 jobs would be created in the construction phase, and up to 1,300 direct and indirect jobs during production.

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