Areva tours Kivalliq communities one more time before FEIS

“There are always questions about employment — that’s been there from the start”


Workers haul equipment at Areva's Kiggavik project site near Baker Lake. The company is touring Nunavut's Kivalliq region this week to gather community input on Nunavut's first uranium mine. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AREVA)

Workers haul equipment at Areva’s Kiggavik project site near Baker Lake. The company is touring Nunavut’s Kivalliq region this week to gather community input on Nunavut’s first uranium mine. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AREVA)

Areva Canada Resources Inc. is doing a final tour of Nunavut’s Kivalliq region to gather community input before the company submits its final environmental impact statement for its Kiggavik project.

The Kiggavik project is Areva’s planned uranium mine and milling operation about 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake, a site that’s estimated to hold about 51,000 tonnes of uranium ore.

“We’ve been engaging communities since before we submitted our project proposal,” said Barry McCallum, Areva’s manager of Nunavut affairs. “And at each stage, we’re looking at what we’ve heard.”

Areva began its tour in Baker Lake last week, before heading to Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet and Whale Cove.

On Nov. 20, Areva will hold an open house at Rankin Inlet’s community hall from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., wrapping up its tour in Arviat Nov. 21, where an open house will run at the local community hall from 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

So far, the events have been drawing anywhere from 25 to 30 community members – most of whom want to know more about jobs.

“There are always questions about employment – that’s been there from the start,” McCallum said, noting the company’s commitment to achieve 50 per cent Inuit employment.

“We expect to start at about 25 per cent and we’ll be hosting some pre-construction training,” he said. “But we estimate that after a few years, we’ll achieve 50 per cent.”

McCallum hopes the company’s past success working with Aboriginal communities will help them reach that goal; Areva’s Cluff Lake mine employed more than 50 per cent of the local Aboriginal population when it was in operation.

Other common questions and concerns McCallum has heard are focused on the mine’s potential environmental impacts and how the company plans to mitigate these.

The possible effects on land and marine animals have gotten a lot of attention in the draft EIS, McCallum said.

“In the coastal communities, the increase in barging is of concern,” he said, noting the project is designed to use a minimal number of transport vessels.

Areva will also have “marine monitors” on each barge, he said.

On land, the roadways connecting the project’s two proposed sites would not be raised above grade to avoid creating an obstacle to caribou migration through the region.

Areva’s project proposal includes two sites, one called Kiggavik and the other called Sissons.

Kiggavik would include three open-pit mines and a processing mill, while Sissons would have another open-mine pit as well as an underground mine.

The company’s proposed infrastructure also includes a landing strip, worker accommodation, access roads to Baker Lake and between the two mine sites, and a dock and storage facility at Baker Lake.

Once this tour has wrapped up, Areva will prepare a report on the input it received, commentary which will make up the final environmental impact statement, due Sept. 2014.

And Areva hopes its message is getting across; the company has come under fire for its review process, not communicating its Kiggavik project well enough within the region, and not doing enough in Inuktitut.

The company has since tried to quell those concerns, making efforts to provide more information in Inuktitut, like on its project website.

Areva’s current tour also includes stops in each community’s high school to explain the different phases of the project and what types of jobs will be available.

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