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.

 

Environmental Monitoring to Ensure Continued Safety and Health of Country Food

1307-BB-4668A number of parties raised concerns related to the difference or gap between actual risk and perceived risk with a uranium mining operation during the Kiggavik Project final hearing in March 2015. There was for example a conversation between the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in which they referenced the concept and examples of comfort or community monitoring (final hearing transcript pages 1054-57) that, despite some similarities, has a different intention from project effects monitoring as outlined in the Kiggavik Project final environmental impact statement.

We refer to project monitoring when effects can reasonably be expected to be measurable. Project monitoring happens for the most part near the operations because they are meant to record the performance of the operations and their anticipated limited extent of environmental effects. These monitoring programs, including their design, location, frequency, etc., are focused on confirming that predictions made before operations start are accurate, ensuring effects are well known and continue to be acceptable. They also inform needed improvements (adaptive management) and opportunities for improvement (continual improvement).

 If the air and water quality are measured and acceptable as they leave the facility and are measured outward until they become either negligible or undetectable there is a high-level of confidence the larger landscape remains healthy and available for use and harvest without restriction. However, not everyone feels comfortable and confident that if changes are not occurring nearby operations they may not be occurring near their community or popular land use locations. In Saskatchewan the government and mine proponents set up community monitoring. This monitoring takes place in locations that are not selected based on possible operational effects but rather they are selected based on community land use. Sampling and monitoring is conducted in these locations to provide greater assurance and comfort to residents that the environment and country food remains safe. The sampling for these community monitoring programs is done by trained local residents, while testing and reporting is performed by independent environmental consultants.

 AREVA has worked with others throughout the Kiggavik environmental review to close the gap between actual and perceived risks by:

  • transparently presenting and communicating the actual risks with associated design and procedures to manage them,
  • organizing uranium and radiation 101 workshops,
  • offering exploration camps and mine site tours,
  • contributing to the development of new Inuktitut terminology, and
  • increasing understanding of uranium exploration and mining through other means such as open houses, public meetings and postings on the Kiggavik Project blog.

Further, AREVA provided a framework for the development of a future community monitoring program in the final environmental impact statement (described in Tier 3 Appendices 1F – Social and Ecological Context and 3C – Community Involvement Plan) and committed to support the continued work of the Inuit Language Authority so that future Inuit workers can clearly communicate their activities at the workplace to family and community members with Inuktitut words and concepts.

These are some of the examples of AREVA’s continued efforts to address and mitigate actual and perceived risks.

Thank you for submitting your comments

AREVA's Baker Lake Office, NUThe Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) received and forwarded a total of 239 comments listed in the final written submissions of 15 interveners on Friday January 16, 2015. The Kiggavik Project team is currently reviewing and preparing responses for submission to the NIRB by February 2 in advance of the Final Hearing that is scheduled to take place from March 2 to 14, 2015 (with a possible extension to March 21) in Baker Lake, NU.

 

The repartition of the origin of the comments received is as follows:

  • Federal government: 99 items
  • Territorial government: 44 items
  • Regional Inuit Organization: 58 items
  • Other registered interveners: 38 items

The comments and concerns raised span across all aspects of the assessment with the top three areas of interest continuing to be:

  • Caribou protection,
  • Socio-economic aspects, with a focus on benefits and,
  • Project description, with a focus on management plans and the potential access road.

Over the past 10 days, the Kiggavik team has been touring the North to discuss the FEIS with the following organizations:

  • The Lutsel K’e First Nation Wildlife Committee in the Northwest Territories – The Lutsel K’e First Nation (LKFN) have been participants in the Kiggavik Project environmental assessment process since 2009. Much of the discussion with the Wildlife Committee pertained to the assessment of potential effects on caribou as presented in Volume 6 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement. AREVA’s team also held an informal meeting open to community members and members of the LKFN council.
  • The Baker Lake Hamlet Council – AREVA’s team had an opportunity to present to the newly elected council. Baker Lake is the closest community to the Kiggavik site (about 80km). AREVA has maintained an office and staff members in Baker Lake since 2006. The discussion with council focused on potential local benefits from the proposed development of the Kiggavik Project.
  • The Arviat Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO) – The Arviat HTO members are concerned with potential effects from dust and marine transportation, so the discussion focused on the atmospheric assessment, available in Volume 4, and the marine assessment, in Volume 7.
  • The Chesterfield Inlet HTO and Hamlet Council – Chesterfield Inlet representatives are generally concerned with the potential effects of shipping on marine mammals, so the discussion focused on the marine assessment provided in Volume 7. They also wanted to know how their input on land and marine life will be incorporated into the project to minimize any effects.

 In early February, the Northern Project Management Office and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s staff will host community meetings to discuss the FEIS with community representatives in Rankin Inlet (Feb. 3), Baker Lake (Feb. 4) and Chesterfield Inlet (Feb. 5). In the meantime, the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) will hold information sessions from January 27 to February 3, 2015, throughout the Kivalliq Region to promote public awareness and effective participation at the upcoming Final Hearing in Baker Lake. The Schedule of the NIRB information sessions is as follows:

Jan 27 – Chesterfield Inlet

Jan 28 – Repulse Bay

Jan 29 – Coral Harbour

Jan 30 – Rankin Inlet

Jan 31 – Arviat

Feb 2 – Whale Cove

Feb 3 – Baker Lake

To view AREVA’s full submission you can scroll through the Resources tab down to Final Environmental Impact Statement where each volume is listed separately.

 We are working to answer all the comments submitted on schedule and look forward to answering questions at the Final Hearing in Baker Lake at the beginning of March.

AREVA Hosts Third Community Liaison Committe Meeting of the Year in Baker Lake

CLC Meeting - July 2013On August 12 the Kiggavik Project Community Liaison Committee held its third meeting of the year in Baker Lake. There were 7 representatives of community organizations such as the trappers and hunters, elders and education in attendance along with two AREVA employees. The meeting started with the formal approval of the June 23, 2014 meeting minutes, which are available in English and Inuktitut. The meeting continued with a discussion on the status of the Kiggavik exploration field season. Barry McCallum, Manager Nunavut Affairs reported that the exploration season would likely be completed in early September this year. He also noted that the Kiggavik Project team was making progress on the preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and expected to be able to submit it to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) in late September. During the meeting the group took some time to review the monthly Kiggavik Wildlife Reports for June and July 2014. Finally the attendees mentioned the upcoming NIRB information sessions scheduled in Baker Lake on September 4. The minutes of this meeting will be made public once they are approved at the next meeting, likely in the fall.