Nunavut government says yes to uranium mining

Five-point policy follows 2011 consultation process


The Government of Nunavut tabled its much anticipated uranium policy with the Nunavut legislature June 6.

Peter Taptuna, the economic development minister, said the GN recognizes the economic benefit uranium mining can bring Nunavut communities, but also that it poses “potential risks to human health and the environment.”

The GN will, however, support exploration of uranium subject to five principles:

• Uranium mined in Nunavut shall be used only for peaceful and environmentally responsible purposes.

• Nunavummiut must be the major beneficiaries of uranium exploration and mining activities.

• The health and safety of workers involved in uranium exploration and mining and all Nunavummiut shall be protected to national standards.

• Environmental standards must be assured for uranium exploration and mining, especially for the land, water and wildlife.

• Uranium exploration and mining must have the support of Nunavummiut, with particular emphasis on communities close to uranium development.

The release of the GN’s position on uranium mining comes after Baker Lake MLA Moses Aupaluktuq asked when it would be released.

The GN began work on it in March 2011, when Premier Eva Aariak announced discussion forums in three Nunavut communities, as well as a website devoted to the issue.

The GN also hired consulting firm Golder and Associates to help co-ordinate the process and develop a policy.

Areva Canada’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine, approximately 80 km west of Baker Lake, has entered an environmental review conducted by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Recently, the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization released a list of concerns about Areva’s draft environmental impact statement.

The HTO said they’re worried about the effect of a uranium mine on caribou migration and hunting.

Areva maintains the project would be an economic benefit for the region.

Aupaluktuq encourages his constituents to raise concerns to him or the NIRB about the mine.

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