Canadian Royalties Nunavik site could operate by 2010

New nickel mine set to leap permit hurdle

By JANE GEORGE

People will get a chance to say what they think about the development of Nunavik's second nickel mine and ask questions about its environmental impact during public hearings next week in Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq.

The hearings, to be held Feb. 25 in Puvirnituq, Feb. 26 in Salluit and Feb. 27 in Kangiqsujuaq, are the last major hurdle in the permitting process that Canadian Royalties, a junior mining company from Val d'Or, must clear before moving ahead with its Nunavik nickel mine.

The property is located 20 kilometres from the Raglan nickel mine in a mineral-rich belt west of Kangiqsujuaq and southeast of Salluit.

The public hearings are certain to reveal some concerns from these two communities.

That's because many in Salluit don't want to see the construction of a second wharf in nearby Deception Bay, while in Kangisujuaq people worry about having to move their hunting and fishing camps out of the mining zone.

Representatives from landholding corporations, the Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corp., will table briefs commenting on the company's $1 million environmental impact statement.

The study, which looked at potential impacts on archaeological sites, waterways, soil, people, birds, fish and air, said its impacts should fall well within acceptable limits.

Pingualuit's crater lake, part of a new provincial park, lies only 34 km from the proposed mine, but the study said the lake would not be affected by any emissions and that none of the mine's facilities would be visible.

The Kativik Environmental Quality Commission, created by the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, will preside over the hearings.

The KEQC, composed of members appointed by the KRG and Quebec, is responsible for assessing and reviewing development projects located north of the 55th parallel in Quebec.

Over the past year, Canadian Royalties has worked to line up the $457 million it needs to build the mine, complete social and environmental studies and apply for environmental permits.

The current price for nickel is still high, at about $12 a pound, so Canadian Royalties is eager get the mine up and running, said Richard ­Faucher, chief executive ­officer.

Canadian Royalties has already bought a stock of mining equipment, rock crushers and generators to start construction.

To get a head start on next summer's planned activities, about 80 per cent of the construction equipment has already been delivered to the future mine site. Last summer, the company also built a road from Raglan to Deception Bay.

If the Nunavik Nickel gets its final permit from the KEQC and Quebec by the end of March, project construction will start this coming spring and the mine will head into production early in 2010.

The mine will consist of four open pit mines at the Mesamax, Expo, Mequillon and Ivakkak deposits and produce nickel and copper for at least 20 years.

Faucher said the company wants to make its mine cleaner than the average operation.

The mine will have its own waste treatment and recycling centre, including a landfill. And its tailings system will use waterproof liners to keep tailings from contaminating the environment, even if rising temperatures start to melt the permafrost.

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