Nunavut mine’s pipeline plans on hold as lockdown leads to meeting cancellations

Nunavut Impact Review Board meetings on hold until further notice

An employee at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine gold mine outside Rankin Inlet tested positive for COVID-19 over the holidays. That person, along with 13 others who may have had contact with that person, have been flown home to isolate. (Photo courtesy of Agnico Eagle)

By Dustin Patar

Agnico Eagle Mines’ controversial plans to build a pipeline to pump effluent from its Meliadine mine to a nearby bay will continue to be on hold, following the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s cancellation of an upcoming technical meeting teleconference as a result of the territory-wide COVID-19 lockdown.

The technical meeting was originally scheduled to be held in-person but was changed to a teleconference format on Nov. 13, before the announcement of the lockdown.

“With office, school and daycare closures across the territory, the ability of parties to participate fully in scheduled teleconferences may be very limited,” wrote Karen Costello, executive director of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, in a letter posted to the board’s registry.

NIRB staff face similar challenges, Costello added.

“Recognizing these developments and the limitations on the participation of parties that may result, the board will not be issuing a revised agenda or rescheduling these meetings at this time,” said Costello.

The community roundtable and pre-hearing conference have also been delayed until further notice.

The Kivalliq Inuit Association, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Baker Lake and Whale Cove hunting and trapping associations have all raised concerns about the environmental impact of the pipeline plans.

Meanwhile, a Nunavut Water Board technical meeting teleconference for a separate proposal involving Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine will go ahead on Nov. 30.

The water board applications are to allow the mine to develop more sites, use more water, and increase the amount of undissolved solids in the mine’s effluent.

Originally, the meeting was scheduled to be held in-person in Rankin Inlet but was changed last week to a teleconference format to comply with public health orders and the territory-wide lockdown.

“The board is mindful of the lockdown and is monitoring the situation closely,” said Stephanie Autut, executive director of the Nunavut Water Board, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

“At this time, however, there have been no requests made by any party to adjust this revised plan.”

The teleconference is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET on Nov. 30. The community roundtable and pre-hearing conference have also been delayed until further notice.

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