GN calls for federal investigation into Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine

Environment Department says the company isn’t following some caribou protection measures

This is Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.’s Meadowbank gold mine. The territorial Environment Department says that the company should have shut down roads leading to the mine multiple times in 2021 due to caribou crossings, but didn’t. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. failed to implement caribou protection measures for four years in a row, according to a senior GN official who wants a federal investigation into the matter.

Jimmy Noble Jr., the deputy minister of the territory’s Environment Department, sent a letter Oct. 17 detailing the issue to the federal Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

He said Agnico Eagle had agreed to close both roads to the company’s Meadowbank gold mine, located 110 kilometres from Baker Lake, to all traffic if 12 or more caribou are within 1.5 kilometres of crossing between April 1 to May 25, and Sept. 16 to Dec. 7.

The company uses a collar program to alert it when caribou are nearby.

Noble said the company’s annual report seems to indicate each road wasn’t shut down eight times in the spring when they should have been, and the same thing happened a total of three times in the fall.

“This is the fourth consecutive year in which the GN has presented evidence of [Agnico Eagle’s] failure to implement the road closure provisions,” Noble wrote.

Neither Noble nor Brad Pirie, an Environment Department manager who was named in the letter as a departmental contact, responded to an interview request.

In an email to Nunatsiaq News, Agnico Eagle spokesperson Casey Paradis St-Onge did not address Noble’s concerns about road closures in 2021 but said there were several days this year, in October, that the company did shut down the roads so caribou could cross.

Most recently, the roads were closed on Oct. 25 when caribou were within 25 kilometres of them.

Paradis St-Onge said Agnico Eagle came up with its caribou conservation plan in co-operation with a terrestrial advisory group that includes the company, Kivalliq Inuit Association, Government of Nunavut and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization.

Paradis St-Onge said the company would participate in the investigation that Noble asked the government to call.

“As per our usual openness and vision to be a good neighbour, we would collaborate on any investigations by a regulatory body related to our operations,” he said.

Nunatsiaq News asked the federal Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs for comment on the letter, but hadn’t received a response as of Wednesday.

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(24) Comments:

  1. Posted by Ian on

    Here we go again anti mining civil servants, at it again, does the gn know what it’s staff are up to.

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    • Posted by Civility on

      Yes they are looking at legally binding agreements between the company and Inuit land-owner, backed by federal legislation to define project terms and conditions, and illustrating that agreements are being broken and environment and wildlife are being harmed and seeing those named are some stop staffers, one could assume yes, they know what’s going on.

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      • Posted by So Why the GN on

        If the legally binding agreements are between the company and Inuit land-owner then why is KIA not bringing this investigation forward? It’s not the GNs land?

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        • Posted by Wildlife on

          Because Wildlife is not a Kia mandate? And the feds are in charge of enforcing project terms and conditions.

          Another thing you may have noticed if you have followed any of this, Kia does not appear to take caribou protection seriously.

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          • Posted by So Why the GN on

            This is directly from the KIA website:
            -To preserve Inuit heritage, culture and language.
            -To manage Inuit owned lands in the region and provide information to and consult with land claims beneficiaries on land use.
            -To protect Arctic Wildlife and the environment, thereby preserving traditional uses for current and future generations.
            -To assist Inuit in the Kivalliq region in training and preparation for a Nunavut Territory.

            So again I ask if the legally binding agreements between the company and Inuit land-owner KIA is not being implemented it is up to KIA to move on enforcement not the GN. If KIA did not raise this issue on an agreement they have between them and Agnico then I don’t know why the GN is sticking its nose in.

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            • Posted by Reality Check on

              The website can say whatever it wants. This is directly from the Land Claim.
              5.1.2 – Principles
              This Article recognizes and reflects the following principles:
              (i) Government retains the ultimate responsibility for wildlife management.

              Also, the project certificate was reassessed so now it complies with NUPPAA. Under NUPPAA 209, the government retains enforcement duties on project certificates. The inuit orgs are just there for the ride (and the royalties).

              And besides, which wildlife department of KIA’s would be in charge of enforcement? Oh that’s right, they don’t have one.

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              • Posted by So Why the GN on

                The GN does not have those powers until devolution happens. So either the Feds would need to bring this up or the KIA. This is not a GN mandate. Also FYI wildlife management is not about regulating what developments can and cannot do, its about harvesting limits and population control. It does not reference shutting down roads that are part of IIBAs and Federal project permits.

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                • Posted by Colin on

                  This is ridiculous. Caribou like most other animals get used to noise. So much so that they wander freely around the Prudeau Bay oil site and, too much, around the Sonderstrom airfield.

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              • Posted by Embare on

                Whoever wrote this about the NA and NuPPAA has no idea what they’re talking about. The delegated authority for wildlife management responsibilities to the GN are found in the Wildlife Act. Development properties are exempt from the Wildlife Act because they’re regulated by federal legislation. Environment people at the GN thinks the GN is a regulator when it legally is not. All the GN did here was try to embarrass the company to defect from how the GN doesn’t share caribou data with mining companies which means the GN is causing the company to be out of compliance. Get the popcorn ready for Rankin…

      • Posted by Sam on

        Strike a nerve civil servant, you are all the same in your ivory towers dictating peoples future.go away

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  2. Posted by Nunavummiut on

    Project certificate and terms and conditions are monitored by CIRNAC and Federal government has the monitoring role until such time Devolution happens and the transfer of monitoring will reside with GN

  3. Posted by Maybe I am wrong? on

    Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the GN house these collaring data and are responsible for its tracking and distribution? My quick Google search told me so, but my mother also told me to not believe everything on the internet. If this is the case, would it not be up to the GN to notify whether a threshold is about to be breached, or at least provide Agnico with frequent data updates so they could monitor GPS movements on their own? I understand the need for ground reconnaissance. At the same time, the human eye can only see so much and therefore a higher magnitude of human error is at play with such method. GPS technologies, such as the collars the GN uses, track literal, continuous movements. What frequency are these data being reported on and distributed? Agnico very likely would have acted accordingly if they were prompted about a possible threshold breach. If the GN does in fact own these data and are responsible for its capture and distribution to interested parties such as mining operators and RIAs, I hope this is heavily weighed in the concluding remarks of the requested investigation.

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    • Posted by It is shared on

      You are correct and this information is shared, has been shared.

      • Posted by Frequency on

        Great. However you failed to provide answer with regard to the frequency at which these data are shared. At what frequency are these data shared? Frequency will impact one’s ability to act accordingly.

  4. Posted by lol on

    The people who benefit from the mine aren’t that concerned with wildlife terms and conditions? shocker. inuit org too? scandalous.

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  5. Posted by Hunter on

    Can you also start investigating the open market on selling caribou meat, so many hunters are now catching caribou in a very unsustainable way to make a quick buck.

    Unregulated and putting a huge strain on the population of caribou.

    Or should we wait for the caribou population to collapse to do something?

    With the population in Nunavut increasing each year, this will have to be dealt with soon.

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    • Posted by alex on

      Didn’t this already happen in Baffin? Over hunted the species and had to ban hunting…..its a good point though, the commerical selling of caribou meat should be monitored and controlled.

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  6. Posted by Wrong picture on

    That’s a picture of the Meliadine mine site 🙂

  7. Posted by Sam on

    Hunter your right,if you ask Gn how many caribou were harvested in Kivalliq,yearly they would give you that Homer Simpson duh look and say they dont know,but I sit at my compuer all day and watch the collared caribou migrate and blame the mines,if there should be an investigation, it should be the gn, not doing its job on proper caribou conservation.

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    • Posted by Hunter on

      Not all caribou have collar, you have no idea how the mining has negative impacts on all our wildlife, mainly caribou, you know nothing period, have you ever hunted in Nunavut before the mines have opened up? All you know is just what is written nothing else.

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      • Posted by Sam on

        Hunter is it any different that you shoot caribou and sell them for money, and
        to ease your conscience blame the mining company’s sounds like a hippocrite to me, remember people
        Harvest caribou and the gn has no idea how many. Ask the question mighty hunter.

    • Posted by It is shared on

      The harvest and selling of tuktu is protected in the NLCA….harvesting rights and right to share/sell legally harvested meat… And the Inuit Regional Orgs/NTI are not wanting to change that. and when the airlines are asked about how much country food is shipped out of the communities, they will not share that information. The GN can’t do anything about that. The only thing the GN could do is request the NWMB put a TAH on the herd…but this is not necessary for the Kivalliq region.

  8. Posted by Sam on

    Yes civil servant, you are so right, quoting sections and trying to justify it, that’s all you know but if you lived over here for any length of time you would see what is happening, and 10years from now, when the herds are decimated, then the outcry will happen, look around you.but then again that computer monitor trumps traditional knowledge.

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