Did you know that uranium mines have had 100% compliance with the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations from 2007 to 2011 and out-performed base metal, precious metal, and iron mines? See Table 2-5 below.
The above table and a full discussion on the performance of uranium mines and how this performance compares to other types of mining is available as Exhibit #53 provided during the Kiggavik Project environmental assessment final hearing. Exhibit #53 – the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Staff Report in the Performance of Uranium Fuel Cycle and Processing Facilities: 2012 (April 2014) is available HERE.
A 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.
As AREVA’s Kiggavik team gets ready to wrap up 2014 and prepares for the next steps of the environmental assessment process, we thought this would be a good time to reaffirm and demonstrate our commitment to wildlife protection. Indeed AREVA is committed to wildlife monitoring and mitigation and transparent reporting. We have a Wildlife Monitoring and Mitigation Plan in effect during the operation of the exploration camp each season, and you can read our summer field season wildlife reports here.
The Kiggavik team has implemented many measures to ensure wildlife protection, for example, at the Kiggavik exploration camp, wildlife have the right of way and operations accommodate wildlife. This means that we suspend drilling operations if groups of caribou approach the drill rigs within 2 km in June or July, and we shutdown drilling if cows and calves are within 10km of the site from May 15 to July 15. Further, the helicopters we use have altitude restrictions to avoid disturbing caribou and we keep logs of each flight including records of wildlife sightings.
We also hire wildlife monitors from Baker Lake to ensure that we comply with the Kiggavik wildlife monitoring and mitigation plan and they also participate in the decision process to shut down and resume operations. In 2013, we shutdown drilling operations at a couple of drill rigs over three days in July and once in August, while in 2014, we shutdown up to three drill rigs over six days in July. Finally, we record any wildlife sighting and disturbance to the government regulators and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization through our monthly wildlife reports during the summer camp operations and in our annual reports.
Our commitment to wildlife protection is unweathering and we look forward to continue to improve and deliver on our wildlife monitoring and mitigation plan in 2015.
AREVA is hosting a series of open houses Nov. 13-21 in seven Kivalliq communities focusing on its proposed Kiggavik Project. Residents from the communities are encouraged to stop by to learn more about the Kiggavik Project and pose questions or offer comments to the AREVA team members there.
More than 100 residents attended the first two days of the open house in Baker Lake, NU, the closest community to the proposed project. The Kiggavik Project is located 80 km west of Baker Lake. On Nov. 15, AREVA held an open house at Repulse Bay, near the Arctic Circle, which was attended by some 25 local residents. The tour concludes at Arviat on Nov. 21.
In each community, AREVA representatives are available to meet with people interested in finding our more about the Kiggavik Project. Residents can also ask questions about AREVA’s draft environmental impact statement on the Kiggavik Project, which was submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) in 2012. Earlier this year, AREVA provided responses to more than 400 technical comments from various organizations about the project.
One key goal of the open houses is to receive feedback from residents on how to improve the project especially regarding how the project would monitor potential environmental effects and how it would mitigate any potential effects. This feedback may be incorporated in the final environmental impact statement, which the company expects to submit to NIRB late next year.
In addition, AREVA staffers meet with local high school students to discuss potential careers in the uranium mining sector. They also fielded many questions about uranium mining, nuclear energy and other energy sources from students and teachers.
For more information about the Kiggavik Project, please visit: www.kiggavik.ca.
AREVA Resources Canada was proud to take part in the Kivalliq Trade Show, which took place in Rankin Inlet from September 30 to October 2. The Trade Show, which brings together over 45 exhibitors and 160 delegates from across Nunavut, explored the theme “Road to Opportunities” for this year’s gathering. AREVA was also happy to support the event as a “Leading Partner”.
Barry McCallum, AREVA’s Manager of Nunavut Affairs, and Dan Zunti, Facility and Logistics Coordinator, attended the trade show and spent time discussing the proposed Kiggavik project with government officials, members of Inuit organizations, and other members of the Nunavut business community.
McCallum also provided a “Uranium 101” presentation to conference delegates. The presentation gave an overview on the global uranium industry, and provided specific focus on how companies such as AREVA work to protect employees and the environment from the radiation risks that uranium mining can present.
“The trade show was a great opportunity for companies working in the Kivalliq region to get together,” said MCallum. “This year’s theme, Road to Opportunities, is a perfect fit for what we’re doing at AREVA. The Kiggavik project has already created a number of economic opportunities for small businesses and willing workers across the Kivalliq region, and we believe these opportunities will continue to grow as the project moves forward.“
For more details on the Trade Show, please visit their website here.