Review board recommends against Meliadine mine extension
Underground mining activity in existing open pits would extend gold mine’s life by 11 years, company says
The Nunavut Impact Review Board has recommended against a proposal to extend the life of Meliadine gold mine.
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. owns the mine, which has been producing gold near Rankin Inlet since 2019.
The company submitted a proposal last year to do underground mining in two open pits at the site and construct wind turbines and a new runway for airplanes.
The company estimates approval would extend the operations phase of the mine by 11 years, to 2043.
In a statement released Nov. 17, NIRB chairperson Kaviq Kaluraq said the board’s decision came down to concerns about the environmental impacts of the project, specifically on the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd.
NIRB is an independent body responsible for assessing the social and economic impact of development projects in Nunavut and making recommendations to the federal government about whether they should be permitted.
The board also expressed concerns about potential impacts to air quality in the area and water quality in Meliadine Lake and Itivia Harbour. The board’s recommendation now goes to federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal for a final decision.
In a statement to Nunatsiaq News on Monday, Agnico Eagle spokesperson Natalie Frackleton said the company is “surprised and disappointed” by the news.
“On first reading, it appears that the scientific studies submitted to the NIRB regarding the impacts of the project have not received all the consideration they deserve in several respects,” she said.
“We will take the time to fully review and understand the NIRB’s recommendation report and assess our next steps before making any further comments.”
The review board assessed Agnico Eagle’s proposal through community information tours in the Kivalliq, northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan communities, a conference in Rankin Inlet in November 2022, and an eight-day public hearing in Rankin Inlet in September.
The company scrapped the wind farm from the proposal after a public hearing.
Vandal is reviewing the report and its recommendations, said Kyle Allen, a spokesperson from his office, Monday.
The minister has 90 to 180 days to either agree with the board’s reconsideration decision and recommendations, reject or vary the board’s decision.