Exploration company expands uranium properties in western Nunavut

Forum Energy says it plans to conduct exploratory drilling in 2023

Forum Energy Metals Corp. recently expanded its mineral claims around the Kiggavik uranium property, about 100 kilometres west of Baker Lake, seen here. (File photo)

By David Lochead

Forum Energy Metals Corp. is expanding its uranium properties in Nunavut’s Thelon Basin, about 100 kilometres west of Baker Lake.

Forum, a small exploration company with a market capitalization of $36.5 million, previously explored the area between 2006 to 2012. The company let its claims expire due to the falling price of uranium at the time, said Rick Mazur, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

With the return of Forum, there are plans to establish a base camp for exploration and conduct drilling at two sites in 2023. It is likely the camp will create local jobs, said Mazur, but it’s too early to say how many.

The expansion includes claims covering 534 square kilometres formerly held by Cameco Corp. in the Thelon Basin, Forum announced earlier this month. With Forum’s legacy claims, the company now holds claims covering 974 square kilometres in the area, surrounding the Kiggavik uranium property, which Forum touts in a news release as “one of the largest undeveloped uranium deposits in the world.”

Uranium is used as fuel for nuclear power plants, which Mazur said is a critical energy source to reduce carbon emissions.

“You would have to cover all of Nunavut with solar panels and windmills to provide the type of energy a nuclear power station can,” he said.

But previous efforts to mine uranium in Nunavut have proven controversial. Areva Canada, now known as Orano Canada, proposed building a mine at Kiggavik in 2008. The company faced vocal opposition from residents who raised concerns about the impact on the region’s caribou herds and other wildlife.

In 2015, the Nunavut Impact Review Board said no to the project, and at that time uranium prices had tumbled to $46 per pound, from $101 per pound in 2008.

But uranium prices are now rising again, Mazur said. It’s currently about $55 per pound, compared to about $32 per pound at the start of 2020.

China is planning to build at least 150 new nuclear reactors by 2035, and Mazur says he believes these projects will stabilize the mineral’s price.

Mazur said that the company’s next step will be to conduct community consultations to hear any concerns residents of Baker Lake may have.

Richard Aksawnee, the mayor of Baker Lake, didn’t offer a comment on the project. The Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization said it will wait until it sees applications through the review board before commenting.

Warren Bernauer, who worked with Baker Lake hunters between 2010 to 2015 on the Kiggavik mine proposal and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Manitoba who studies resource extraction in the North, expressed his doubts about the project.

Bernauer said the price of uranium is still not profitable enough for mining in Nunavut, which is evidenced by Cameco Corp. letting its claims expire.

He also said he believes nuclear power plants are not the best way to transition to carbon-free energy production because they are expensive and take many years to build.

Bernauer said he is concerned about the potential for environmental damage as well. The concentrated form of uranium produced during mining is extremely radioactive and a mining accident could cause serious environmental damage he said.

In reaction to this criticism, Forum president Mazur said there are several safety measures Canadian mining companies must follow, and the nuclear industry is one of the most regulated in the world.

Mazur said he agrees it will take time for nuclear energy to reduce global carbon emissions, but he said the same could be said for renewable energy.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Silas on

    I believe in order for any residents of Nunavut to begin to believe the regulatory and safety measures to be safe and environmentally sound, the people themselves must have Inuit who are fully educated in the mining industry. At present the only type of work that Inuit do are labor intensive and none in the higher professions of the industry.
    Inuit traditional lives depend on the renewable resources surrounding their lands. That includes the environment, ecology and all factors of life surrounding the wildlife they depend on. With the prices of food and goods continuing to increase this becomes more compelling for Inuit to maintain their traditional foods diet.
    A mine is a limited resource for people and leaves a negative footprint in the environment regardless of the miners attempts to recover the lands to its original state, it is never the same again.
    Renewable resources, on the other hand, have maintain the culture of the Inuit for millennia. There is no perpetual benefit for Inuit as a limited mine can only provide for a people for a time. They leave a devastating legacy in the wildlife and the environment which the Inuit depend on.

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    • Posted by Pork Pie on

      I agree, it’s desirable that Inuit occupy positions were the greater decision making takes place. But something to think about too, when that happens expect to see suspicion, jealousy and accusations of being a “sell out” from other Inuit.

      The dimension of social class can’t be ignored and as Inuit society begins to form increasingly visible lines between classes, which is already happening, the more these internal divisions will appear. It’s happening already and can be seen already.

      What will you say, for example, when a Inuk technician, geologist or whatever supports the same kinds of ideas people expect and oppose from ‘southerners?’

      Maybe you think that won’t happen? It almost certainly will.

  2. Posted by northerner on

    Uranium? Seriously?
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    Give us a break for a while, if its not ore dust, or scheezy seismis companies, not uranium?! Pissss off, or not, we can handle that petition too.

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  3. Posted by Sam on

    NTI,KIA,GN,will make billions off this project in royaltys and taxes,and Baker Lake will see nothing,look what Baker Lake received from NTI,KIA,GN,Nothing,100 million they received from Agnico-Eagle,and its time for Baker Lake to tell these groups tp go away ,6 billion project and Rankin Inlet gets eveything,time to stand up to these groups

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  4. Posted by Concerned beneficiary on

    Uranium is made for a powerful explosives.
    Bombs. Nuclear bombs.
    Supposed to be very expensive.

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    • Posted by Uranium Power on

      Uranium is also used to create 15% of Canada’s energy needs, so…

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  5. Posted by Paul on

    There will be uranium mined in Nunavut inside the next 20 yrs.
    Accept it, embrace it and start educating accordingly or else be left behind again, without any control.
    Fusion beats fission.

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  6. Posted by Frank on

    Nunavut needs to switch to nuclear power. Never mind All the diesel fuel powered generators By the way .. Nunavut has enough uranium to generate power for the whole territory. No more fuel contamination from fuel oil in the water . Nunavut is cold enough to run nuclear power plants

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    • Posted by Good Luck on

      Hope it would be run better than the water treatment facility in iqaluit!

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  7. Posted by TGC on

    Chernobyl the city is being resettled after that reactor meltdown of April 25th 1986. It us still dangerous to health but relatively peaceful when compared to the rest of the country. It had been abandoned left to nature with only a few researchers making brief forays into the site in the intervening time, 86 to now.

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