NTI’s uranium partner starts drilling

Kivalliq Energy begins exploratory drilling inland from Whale Cove


Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s uranium-mining partner has started exploratory drilling on what it considers some of “northern Canada’s highest grade uranium deposits.”

Kivalliq Energy Corp., the child of a 2008 co-ownership agreement between NTI and Kaminak Gold Corp., started phase one of a 10,000-metre, diamond-drilling exploration project at Nunavut’s Lac Cinquante uranium site, Kivalliq’s President John Robins announced Aug. 5.

The site is about 200 km inland from Whale Cove in the Kivalliq region.

The exploration aims to confirm the presence of high-grade uranium ore, verify the dimensions of the deposits, and test the potential for expansion, Robins said in a public statement issued on behalf of the board of directors.

Further testing is scheduled for next year.

Kivalliq Energy Corporation is the first company in Canada to sign a comprehensive agreement with the Inuit of Nunavut to explore for uranium on Inuit-owned lands in Nunavut.

Completed in early 2008, the partnership gives NTI part ownership in the subsidiary company.

But the way was only cleared for the deal — and quite possibly for others to follow — after NTI adopted a policy in the fall of 2007 that supports uranium mining as long as it does not harm Inuit, wildlife or the environment.

Under the Kivalliq Energy scheme, NTI gets:

  • one million shares in Kivalliq Energy;
  • an annual royalty payment of $50,000 for the subsurface rights it owns;
  • the choice, after the feasibility study has been completed, between taking a 25 per cent interest in the company or 7.5 per cent of net profits; and
  • a $1,000,000 payment if the company produces 12 million pounds of uranium.</li

Kivalliq claims the Lac Cinquante Deposit contains 20.4 million pounds of uranium oxide with grades in excess of one per cent. It says there are more than 150 other uranium occurrences on the 270,000 acre Angilak Project site, which comprises Kivalliq’s core asset.

Critics of the policy and this first partnership deal say uranium mining by definition poses a threat to the environment, including wildlife and Inuit, because of the radioactive nature of the waste material that is released from the bedrock by the mining process.

The waste must be contained for thousands of years after the mine has closed, they point out.

And they say there is also the danger that some of the uranium may end up being used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

But in the light of climate change concerns, others argue that uranium-fueled nuclear power is a less environmentally harmful alternative to fossil fuels.

Until the 2007 about-face, NTI had a long-standing ban on uranium mining, instituted after Baker Lake residents voted overwhelmingly in 1990 against the development of the Kiggavik uranium mine.

The Baker Lake Concerned Citizens Committee still opposes uranium mining, although its members complain they are being increasingly marginalized by a pro-development NTI.

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