Western Nunavut gold project’s greatest impact could be on caribou – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – April 26, 2016)


Final hearing for Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.’s Back River proposal underway in Cambridge Bay

CAMBRIDGE BAY — The health of caribou: that’s what a positive recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board on the Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.‘s Back River gold mine project in western Nunavut could depend on.

Sabina’s scaled-down gold mining project, known as Hannigayok in Inuinnaqtun, is under environmental scrutiny at the final environmental hearing taking place before the NIRB in Cambridge Bay April 25 to April 30.

There would be no overlap with caribou during “sensitive” periods, Matthew Pickard, Sabina’s vice president for the environment and sustainability, said April 25.

But the Beverly caribou herd would migrate near the mine during the summer and fall. For this herd, mild habitat loss and disruption would be expected, along with a possible reduction in reproductivity, he said.

The Beverly herd lost half its population between 1994 and 2011, while numbers of the Bathurst caribou herd are in free-fall, according to a 2015 survey, which said this herd, half-a-million strong 30 years ago, may now have shrunk to as few as 16,000 animals.

During its April 25 presentation, Sabina presented many monitoring programs and 12 actions designed to reduce impacts on caribou. The actions include shutting down mining activities if caribou come close to the mining complex.

Participants gathered at the Luke Novoligak community hall to listen to Sabina including representatives from the governments of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Canada, as well as organizations that include the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and the Yellowknife Dene First Nation.

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