AREVA disappointed with ministerial decision on Kiggavik Project

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs has issued a final decision to accept the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s recommendation to not approve the proposed Kiggavik Project at this time.

AREVA is very disappointed with this outcome. AREVA and its partners in this project spent over eight years and tens of millions of dollars on the environmental assessment process. The Kiggavik Project, demonstrated through the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) review, had no unresolvable issues and would provide positive, long-term benefits to the Kivalliq Region. Having start date uncertainty is not unique to this project and it occurs quite frequently in Canada given the timeline for approvals and constantly changing market conditions.

The Minister’s Decision itself makes note that uncertainty of start date is a common situation for proposed developments in the north and that provisions in the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and/or terms and conditions to a Project Certificate that accommodate uncertainty can largely address this issue. These provisions were discussed at length throughout the process and during the NIRB final hearing and we are obviously disappointed that they were not applied to the Project. As stated throughout the regulatory review process, AREVA was fully prepared to re-evaluate and confirm the accuracy of our predictions should there have been a significant delay in project start date and to evaluate performance against predictions throughout operations.

‎AREVA is fully aware that in order to have a successful development we require regulatory approvals, community engagement and support, and favorable economic conditions. At the end of this nearly eight year process, the question remains whether the Project, as designed, could meet the requirements for development in Nunavut at this time. Further, the decision by the authorities to not apply available remedies to take into consideration an uncertain project start date influences the company’s investment risk and future project advancement.

AREVA recently concluded our summer field season in Nunavut. There was no drilling, geophysics, prospecting, or geological mapping in 2016. A crew spent 10 days at the site transitioning and securing the exploration camp for care and maintenance. Given the decision on the project and the market conditions, there are no immediate plans to resume exploration activities.

We will take some time to decide our next steps and will discuss with our partners in this project in the coming months. AREVA continues to believe the Kiggavik Project is sound and can offer many benefits to Nunavut without compromising the environment.

Kiggavik Project: A Quick Update

It has been a while since we last provided an update on the Kiggavik Project, so here is a short recap of what we’ve been up to this summer and fall.

Summer Exploration Program

This year we opened the Kiggavik exploration camp on June 11 and closed it on August 28, 2015 after drilling over 7,300m. We focused our efforts on better defining the deposits and trying to possibly discover new ones in the area. Now that the summer field season is over, we are working on analyzing the data and reviewing the drill cores to help us define potential future exploration programs in the area.

Wildlife Monitoring Report

As in previous years, for the duration of our summer exploration program, we monitored wildlife near the Kiggavik exploration camp and drilling sites. We employed Wildlife Monitors from Baker Lake, whose responsibilities were to notify our geologists and health, safety and environmental protection supervisor when caribou herds were approaching and also record sightings of the various wildlife species in the area. You can read the latest August 2015 Wildlife Report here. You can see all the Wildlife Reports published to date here (scroll down to the section Wildlife Reports). These reports provide data and location maps on the wildlife observed near Kiggavik.

Community Liaison Committee Meeting

On July 8, 2015 we held the second Kiggavik Community Liaison Committee (CLC) meeting of this year. At this meeting, the community representatives in attendance approved the minutes of the previous Kiggavik CLM meeting of February 27, 2015. You can read the February meeting minutes in English here and in Inuktitut here.

This July AREVA’s representatives, Barry McCallum, Manager Nunavut Affairs and Nathan Drake, Geo-environmental Engineer, provided an update on the NIRB recommendation to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and AREVA’s letter to the Minister expressing our views on the matter. Nathan gave a thorough update on the operation of the Kiggavik exploration camp and highlighted that several local people were working at the Kiggavik camp this summer as camp operators, kitchen staff, wildlife monitors and driller helpers. He also discussed the June Wildlife Report, which indicated that caribou, grizzly bear and wolf were observed along with many other types of birds and animals, however it hadn’t been necessary then to suspend drilling operations as they were far enough from our activities. Finally, Barry provided the members of the CLC with copies of AREVA’s Homeland Visits photo-book, which depicts the 27 homeland visits offered by AREVA to community members between 2006 and 2013. You can view the Homeland Visits Book here. We will make the July 2015 CLC meeting minutes available on this blog once they are approved by the CLC at their next meeting.

 

Exploration Field Program Underway at Kiggavik

1307-BB-3915This year, the Kiggavik exploration camp opened on June 11, 2015 and plans are set to close by the end of August. This year the camp is supported by ten (10) Baker Lake seasonal staff, several of them are returning staff from previous seasonal work with AREVA. Once again many local, northern businesses are providing goods and services. The total value of AREVA’s goods and services spending with Kivalliq and Nunavut contractors is tracked and reported in AREVA’s Kiggavik Project Field Program Annual Report. Previous reports are available on this Kiggavik Project website HERE or on the Nunavut Impact Review Board site HERE. We will post this year’s field program report on this blog once it is finalized later in the year.

Since the start of this summer field season, the exploration crew has drilled 4,990 m  (as of July, 25, 2015) and is expecting to reach a total of 8,400 m drilled for the 2015 season. Drilling is the creation of “core”, a cylindrical sample of bedrock that is about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter. The length of the core sample varies with most holes at Kiggavik drilled to a depth of  about 300 m (1,000 feet). The core is placed in wooden boxes and stored at the Kiggavik site where geologists study them to evaluate the possibility of finding a new deposit or the shape, grade, and other aspects of potential and known deposits. Select pieces of core are also commonly sent to AREVA’s Saskatoon, Saskatchewan exploration office for further study including chemical analysis. 1307-BB-3828

With the short, seasonal summer programs at Kiggavik, our researchers cannot do all the work they want or plan to do on the cores so this year AREVA plans to send whole cores (not pieces) from two holes drilled within the Kiggavik deposits to Saskatoon and then to our mine site at McClean Lake in northern Saskatchewan. This will allow us to do further, year-round research on the Kiggavik core/deposits at the McClean Lake site.  Similar to previous transport of core pieces, the planned transport of whole core will follow the relevant federal, territorial, and provincial rules and regulations for the transportation of these samples. The whole core will be transported south in core boxes inside a small, certified sea container and the core piece samples will be transported in small certified pails.

1307-BB-3356It takes many exploration field programs to determine the full extent of a deposit, for example exploration work was first carried out at Kiggavik in the late 1970’s, then in the late 1980’s and then again between 1993 and 1997 by a previous company. After a nine year exploration suspension, AREVA resumed annual field programs at Kiggavik in the spring of 2007 and has had drilling programs in the area ever since. You can learn more about the Kiggavik Project history here (Final Environmental Impact Statement Tier 1 Volume 1 Part 1 Section 1.4).

NIRB Set Dates for Public Hearings on Kiggavik Project

The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) has published the dates of public hearings for the Kiggavik Project final environmental impact statement. The technical presentations are planned for March 2-7, 2015 and the community roundtables for Marc 9-15, 2015. The hearings will be held at the Baker Lake Community Center and could extend into the week of March 16-20, if deemed necessary by NIRB. For more information consult the NIRB site.