Blaze torches Nanisivik licence paper work

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS

Nanisivik Mines officials will have to wait another month to find out if the Nunavut Water Board will give them another water licence.

That’s because the water board has lost most of the paper work related to Nanisivik Mines’ most recent water licence application.

Those files, along with almost everything else in the water board’s Gjoa Haven office, were incinerated in an April 7 fire that swept through the old Amundsen Hotel building in Gjoa Haven.

“Everything was lost”

“Everything was lost,” said the board’s executive director, Phillipe Di Pizzo. “The whole office is down to the ground.”

He estimates the loss at about $140,000, which he said should be covered by insurance.

The fire is just another in a long series of delays for the mine, which has been operating on an extension of its previous water licence since last fall.

Environmental watchdog

The Nunavut Water Board is one of several Inuit-government management boards set up under the Nunavut land claims agreement to make decisions about environmental issues in Nunavut.

In Nunavut, the new water board replaces the Yellowknife-based NWT Water Board, an Ottawa-appointed body that still operates in the western NWT.

All water users ­ including municipalities, developers and others ­ must follow certain environmental rules and regulations before they can get water licences.

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association has already complained that tailings released by Nanisivik Mines are damaging the environment ­ including local bodies of water.

People in nearby Arctic Bay have long complained about pollution they say is caused by Nanisivik Mines.

QIA threatening to sue

QIA officials have even said they’ll take the water board to court if they don’t deal with those environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, the water board recently issued a draft licence for various parties to comment on before a final licence is issued.

Older files had been archived and stored in Yellowknife, but recent files, including Nanisivik Mines, were saved on computers which were destroyed.

But Di Pizzo says the board’s licence review will resume by the end of the week.

Files can be replaced

“It might take some time, but we can get the files back,” di Pizzo said. “Several people had copies of the documents we had.”

The board will likeley make a decision about its permanant location in June, but in the meantime they’ve moved temporarily into a vacant house in Gjoa Haven.

“It’s small, but we’re getting back to normal,” di Pizzo said, adding that the board’s phone number is the same as the old one.

The fire is still under investigation, but unofficially, it’s believed to have been caused by the old hotel’s furnace and heating system.

In 1995, Gjoa Haven co-op replaced their rickety old Amundsen Hotel building with a new two-storey Amundsen Hotel near the centre of the community.

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