Approving uranium project will only alienate Nunavut Inuit: Mining Watch (Nunatsiaq News – August 5, 2015)

“Inuit would rightfully feel like their voice does not matter”

Mining Watch Canada is urging the federal government to take the advice of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which advised that a Nunavut uranium project should not move forward for now.

The mining watchdog group sent a July 28 letter to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt, asking him to uphold the NIRB’s decision on Areva Resources Canada’s Kiggavik mine proposal.

Mining Watch’s letter comes just weeks after Areva asked the federal government to reject the NIRB’s report, which recommends the proposed uranium project not go ahead because of the company’s lack of firm start date.

“It is entirely inappropriate for a proponent to propose a major mining project without any start date, let alone wait until after a review has concluded to bring forward vital arguments and information related to substantial community concerns,” said Ugo Lapointe, Canadian program co-ordinator at Mining Watch Canada, said in a news release.

“Overturning the NIRB recommendation would serve to further alienate Aboriginal peoples from regulatory processes, and erode trust between Inuit and the mining industry in Nunavut,” Lapointe added. “Inuit would rightfully feel like their voice does not matter, despite the existence of a negotiated land claim agreement.”

In its letter, Mining Watch says that Areva had “no substantive engagement with community concerns regarding the start date until after the final hearings.”

Mining Watch also says Areva’s suggestion that Kiggavik should be approved because a review of TMAC Resources’ Hope Bay gold project continued despite the lack of a firm start date does not hold up, because there was little public concern expressed around that project in general.

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