All mining projects require the transportation of materials to the site and the final product to market. With limited transportation infrastructure in Nunavut, we carefully considered logistics in the design and operation of the proposed Kiggavik Project.
According to AREVA’s proposal for the Kiggavik Project, supplies would arrive by ship and barge at a dock and storage area at Baker Lake, then transported approximately 80 km west on a winter access road to the project site. AREVA is considering an all-season road as a second option between Baker Lake and the Kiggavik Project, in case the winter road is not sufficient.
The uranium product produced at Kiggavik would be packaged and transported by aircraft to southern transportation routes. An airstrip would be built at the Kiggavik site for transport of workers and materials. Workers would be flown to the site from Kivalliq communities and other locations.
AREVA identified these transportation alternatives in the project proposal submitted to regulators in 2008 and potential impacts were assessed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) in late 2011 . Read the DEIS executive summary here and the Project Description (Volume 2) here.
AREVA also evaluated in the DEIS (Volume 10) potential accidents and malfunctions related to the proposed activities, including risks related to transportation.
Today uranium concentrate is transported by road and rail networks in Canada. Transportation of uranium by air was a common practice when mining in Northern Saskatchewan did not connect reliably with the road network. Aircraft transported uranium concentrate from Uranium City when the Beaverlodge site operated from 1952 until 1982.
Air transport of radioactive materials in Canada is regulated by Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations. Both regulators have provided technical expertise to NIRB during the review of the Kiggavik DEIS.
Companies shipping uranium concentrate must file an Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP), which is reviewed and approved by Transport Canada. The plans specify emergency response responsibilities, recovery procedures, and available resources. Companies regularly perform exercises of the ERAP to test its effectiveness. AREVA will develop the ERAP for the Kiggavik Project in consultation with Transport Canada, the CNSC, local communities, and other concerned parties.
AREVA has been shipping material safely to and from its mining operations in northern Saskatchewan for decades. The uranium industry has recorded a strong track record of reliable transportation even in challenging environments.