Aupaluk mine to bring hydro power, workers to Nunavik

Hydro Quebec said to be eying Leaf River dam


Hydro Quebec is mulling over how it can supply electricity to the huge iron mine near Aupaluk, slated to start operations as early as 2016.

A 400-MW hydro-electric project — enough to power 400,000 households — would be required to feed the mine complex, reported Le Soleil Nov. 27.

That project would also connect other Nunavik communities on to Quebec’s power grid, the Quebec newspaper said.

The source of this electricity could flow from some 600 kilometres to the south, from hydroelectric projects there, and from one or two future dam projects along the Ungava coast, possibly on the nearby Leaf River.

A Hydro Quebec spokesperson told Le Soleil that “the discussions were in their early stages” and that it would be “premature” to discuss any scenario.

But Oceanic Iron Ore Corp. has already told Quebec what its infrastructure requirements are for the company’s $3.7 billion Ungava Bay project.

“Oceanic and Makivik [Corp.] are in agreement that a hydro power transmission line servicing the Ungava Bay region and a year round deep sea port near Aupaluk will benefit both parties and is a key priority,” said a September new release.

That connection to the provincial power grid would also open the door to a high-speed fibre-optic Internet connection.

Every year Oceanic’s Hopes Advance mine plans to produce 20 million tonnes of high-grade iron concentrate in pellets. That means this mine would be as large as the Mary River mine, which is expected to bring in thousands of workers to Nunavut during its construction period and has the Qikiqtani Inuit Association worried.

The Le Soleil article also quotes lawyer Jean-François Arteau, assistant to Makivik president Pita Aatami, as saying that a large mine as envisioned by Oceanic doesn’t alarm the residents of tiny Aupaluk, population of about 150.

Arteau told Le Soleil that Nunavik communities don’t fear the influx from the South.

“This doesn’t bring on any social problems,” he said.

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