The Nunavut regulatory calendar continues to be busy in the
mining sector. While Newmont's plans for the Hope Bay gold
mining project were put on hold (much to the disappointment of
those in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut hoping for the jobs it was
expected to bring), other projects are proceeding and some seem to
Over the winter, Baffinland's Mary River project continued
its progress through the regulatory approvals process. First, in
October, the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) heard and
considered Baffinland's application to conduct certain activity
prior to the completion of the Review of the broader project by the
NIRB. This was the first consideration of such an application under
section 12.10.2 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) by the
NIRB for a project of the scale and scope of the Mary River
The initial response of the NIRB was to suggest to Baffinland
that the extent of the work proposed was more significant than it
was willing to contemplate allowing to proceed (it would have seen,
among other things, the preparation of land for the eventual
infrastructure such as port facilities and rail rights of way).
Baffinland's revised application was scaled back significantly
and was accepted by the NIRB with the exception of an element that
would have seen the overwintering of a 10 million liter fuel barge
at Steensby Inlet. Baffinland's response to NIRB's decision
was to delay much of the on-site work that had been proposed for
the immediate future while it proceeds through the NIRB approval
Meanwhile, as part of the NIRB Review of the Mary River project,
technical meetings were held in the spring of 2012 in Iqaluit with
a view to narrowing the issues remaining to be considered at the
Final Hearing of the NIRB to be held in July, 2012. Questions
remain regarding how stakeholders, including the Qikigtani Inuit
Association, which represents the Inuit of the Qikigtani Region
(Baffin Island), will position themselves at the Final Hearing.
There is some tension between the desire for development (and the
related jobs it is expected to bring) and the anticipated effects
to the environment (natural and human).
While the Baffinland project is the headline grabber for the
Nunavut mining sector, the news out of the annual Nunavut Mining
Symposium (held in Iqaluit during April) included discussions of
other projects that are either continuing or are being
reinvigorated. Among these were MMG's proposed zinc-copper
project at Izok Lake in western Kitikmeot Region and the Bathurst
Inlet Road and Port proposal related to Sabina Silver Corp.'s
Hackett River silver-zinc mine. While these projects are still
early in the regulatory process activity, the NIRB appears to be
into a rather busy period. It will be interesting to follow these
developing projects and the manner in which the regulator manages
the workload they create.
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