MAC: Mines and Communities

Indigenous group urges Canada to uphold Kiggavik decision

Published by MAC on 2015-08-22
Source: CBC News (2015-08-21)

Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou board urges feds to uphold Kiggavik decision

By Sima Sahar Zerehi

CBC News

21 August 2015

'If these herds are not protected to the utmost, we're concerned that a source of livelihood and tradition which is valued at over $20 million annually from the harvest will be lost," says Ross Thompson, executive director of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board.

'If these herds are not protected to the utmost, we're concerned that a source of livelihood and tradition which is valued at over $20 million annually from the harvest will be lost," says Ross Thompson, executive director of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board.

The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board is calling on the federal government to support a Nunavut regulator's recommendation that Areva's Kiggavik uranium mine project not be allowed to go ahead.

"If these herds are not protected to the utmost, we're concerned that a source of livelihood and tradition which is valued at over $20 million annually from the harvest will be lost," says Ross Thompson, the board's executive director.

The board sent a letter Wednesday to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister Bernard Valcourt to urge him to say no to Areva's proposal, upholding the Nunavut Impact Review Board's recommendation.

"We're hopeful that Minister Valcourt will respect the process that has said no, will respect the communities' input that depend on the caribou, and respect an agency like ours that has been around since 1982 and is predominantly aboriginal people who depend on the caribou," says Thompson.

In its recommendation released this spring, NIRB rejected Areva's proposal for its Kiggavik mine on the grounds that it lacks a definite start date and a development schedule. The review board concluded that without this information it was impossible to assess the environmental and social impacts of the project.

Areva has written to Valcourt asking the minister to reject NIRB's recommendation and direct the review board to "consider the inclusion of appropriate terms and conditions to a project approval."

The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board says the mine could pose long-term problems to the caribou herds.

"Even though there's promises of monitoring, the capacity of a lot of the agencies in a very widespread harsh area of Canada is not really feasible," says Thompson.

"The Qamanirjuaq herd is stable, or we believe slightly decreasing, and when the company says they can't guarantee an exact start time, that puts a whole new set of issues to be addressed and negates the data and information put forward in 2015.

"The cumulative effects, which we believe are farther reaching than what the impact statement said, affect so many of the caribou communities, not only the Kivalliq region, but in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the southeastern parts of the Northwest Territories."

The Kivalliq Wildlife Board, Mining Watch Canada and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Association have also sent letters to Valcourt asking him to support NIRB's recommendation.

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