Transportation for the Kiggavik Project

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.

Ice Profiling on Baker Lake

Back in February, Kiggavik Project’s Environment and Radiation Protection Supervisor had the opportunity to ride along with Peter from Peter’s Expediting during one of his ice profiling excursions on Baker Lake. Ice profiling is essentially measuring ice thickness. It is required before starting the winter haul of supplies from Baker Lake to the Kiggavik Project site. To measure the ice thickness they use a combination of sonar instruments and drill test holes with an ice auger, which helps to verify the accuracy of the data collected by the sonar instruments. AREVA is committed to protecting the safety of its employees, contractors and neighbours, ice profiling is one example of how AREVA’s safety standards are applied.

Committed to Training

AREVA is committed to provide adequate training for its employees but also to help its contractors be the best suppliers they can be.  This commitment was illustrated at the beginning of February 2011, when AREVA Resources joined forces with Peter’s Expediting to provide online Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) and Workplace Hazardous Materials Identification System (WHMIS) training sessions in Baker Lake.

Six of Peter’s Expediting employees completed the TDG and WHMIS training over two days and six more registered to complete the program at a later date.  The group met in AREVA’s Baker Lake offices were six laptops had been set-up to provide the online training. AREVA’s Kiggavik Project Environment and Radiation Protection Supervisor, Kim, was on hand to assist the participants with any technical difficulties. This training not only met AREVA’s commitment to continuously improve and meet its safety standards, it also provided its contractor with the resources to meet regulatory training requirements.