Nunavut regulator finds mining company’s pipeline plan response lacking

“The scope and content of the information provided to date by Agnico Eagle as the impact statement addendum is not sufficient”

Agnico Eagle will need to resubmit an impact statement addendum to the NIRB after their initial response was found to be insufficient. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has found that Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.’s initial response to their request for more information about the potential impacts of the proposed pipeline at the Meliadine mine is insufficient.

Last month, the NIRB determined that the mine’s proposal to install two 40-kilometre-long pipes to discharge salty water near Rankin Inlet will be subject to a public environmental assessment.

“The scope and content of the information provided to date by Agnico Eagle as the impact statement addendum is not sufficient,” said NIRB Executive Director Karen Costello in a July 17 letter to Jamie Quesnel, Agnico Eagle’s regional manager for permitting and regulatory affairs.

Impact statements are considered in the NIRB’s assessment of the potential impacts associated with any given project, a critical first step before beginning a technical review.

In the case of the Meliadine pipeline project, this means that an Agnico Eagle submission would need to clearly identify the changes and updates to the management and monitoring plans already in place at the mine.

Such an addendum should be a stand-alone document that describes all aspects of the project proposal that can be reviewed by an intervener and the public, said a June 15 letter from Sophia Granchinho, a NIRB impact assessment manager, to Quesnel.

Quesnel responded four days later.

According to Costello’s letter, that response was insufficient in several key areas.

It lacked supporting evidence, a complete project description and scope, an environmental management system, the incorporation of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and an element of public engagement.

On June 30 the NIRB put out a call for written responses from the public.

Several community members responded, sending letters, photos and even a video, expressing many of the same concerns, including a lack of proper public consultation.

“I believe the community of Rankin Inlet was not adequately given the opportunity in March to receive the details of AEM’s water disposal plans,” said Brian Zawadski in a July 4 email to the NIRB.

Zawadski also pointed out that while written responses may be the norm for organizations, they’re not for residents of Rankin Inlet and other communities.

Given the restrictions put on public gatherings due to COVID-19 precautions, Zawadski suggested the possibility of mail and social media campaigns or even a radio phone‐in show.

“We need to be creative and find some alternative means to get the message out to gather a better sense of community response,” he said.

A July 24 letter from Quesnel to Costello indicated that Agnico Eagle would submit a revised final environmental impact statement addendum to the NIRB the week of August 10.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Chris on

    Just listened to the Agnico Eagle conference call and they suggested their discharge process/permitting is going “according to the plan.” Remember, in March they filed an “emergency application” for water, yet to investors they suggested it was to plan. I understand the emergency pertained to CP-1 into Meliadine Lake.

  2. Posted by Mike on

    Agnico’s conference call in Q1 stated that the community accepts the pipeline as the best solution and Sean Boyd said there was no pushback or opposition. In Q2 he said it *will* be built. AEM has one message for investors, one for the regulators and another when speaking to local Inuit communities. Deceptive.

  3. Posted by Chris Kanaan on

    Has Nunatsiaq News caught that AEM will try to increase their TDS discharge into meliadine lake up to 3,500 mg/L. The original limit was set at 1,400 mg/L. Can anybody show evidence that a mine anywhere else in North America has such a generous TDS discharge limit as they were able to convince (or force) the Nunavut Water Board to increase their criteria after making an “emergency” application which threatened flooding from CP-1 dyke if not approved? It is ignorance and appauling, in my view. In one of AEM’s filings to the NIRB, they say that there is no evidence that even 3,500 mg/L into a freshwater lake “is an issue.”

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