Vandal agrees to Chidliak mine review, but clarification needed
Nunavut Impact Review Board looking for answer on collaborating its review with water board
Updated Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.
Federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal has agreed to an environmental review of the Chidliak diamond mine, according to a letter sent by the minister to the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
However, the Nunavut Impact Review Board is looking for clarification from De Beers Group Canada on whether the company expects the board’s review to be co-ordinated with the Nunavut Water Board, which regulates the use of water in the territory.
The review board asked for this clarification Monday, in a response to Vandal’s acceptance of a review.
The Chidliak diamond mine, being proposed by De Beers Group Canada, is located on the Hall Peninsula about 120 kilometres northeast of Iqaluit.
On Nov. 14, the review board gave its assessment of the proposal for the diamond mine and recommended an environmental review of the project to Vandal, who has the authority to approve the review board’s recommendation.
In his agreement to the review on Feb. 14, Vandal also mentioned he and the other responsible ministers will consider giving funding to the review.
If Vandal decides an environmental review co-ordinated with the water board is necessary, the board has said it needs to know by Feb. 24.
The area De Beers is exploring for the mine is 42,000 hectares and includes 74 kimberlites, which are the rocks that contain diamonds.
The mine would have fewer than 200 personnel on site at any time, De Beers stated. But the company added the actual number will not be established until it identifies the technology needed and the mining process that will be used. The mine will potentially open in 2026, with a closure phase starting in 2045.
To operate the mine, De Beers is proposing new low-carbon methods, such as having a diamond processing plant that is mobile. It is also proposing use of renewable energy such as wind, solar and potentially nuclear energy.
In the screening for the diamond mine, the territorial and federal governments as well as regional organizations such as Qikiqtani Inuit Association voiced concerns over the project.
An issue commonly mentioned was the potential impact the mine could have on the environment and wildlife, especially caribou migration. The availability of local jobs compared to remote jobs, and the possible impact of nuclear energy, were also concerns.
In its response, De Beers environment and permitting manager Sarah McLean thanked the governments and organizations for their comments, adding the company plans to follow up with each group on how to improve the project.
De Beers Group Canada was not available for comment on this story Tuesday.
Correction: This story has been updated from an earlier version to correct the Chidliak Diamond Mine’s location on Hall Peninsula and to correct the number of employees who would potentially work at the mine.