Road would begin at Grays Bay and stretch south to the N.W.T.’s diamond mines
A project proposal to build the longest road in Nunavut — a 227 kilometre all-season road from the shores of the Northwest Passage — is moving closer to fruition. On Friday, the Government of Nunavut signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association to partner on the project.
The road would connect a proposed deep water port at Grays Bay — on the Northwest Passage between Bathurst Inlet and Kugluktuk — to the winter road that services the N.W.T.’s diamond mines. It’s one of Nunavut’s and the N.W.T’s richest area in minerals.
“The challenge has always been lack of road infrastructure to get the product out,” said Tom Hoefer, the executive director of the N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. “So this is nothing new in the sense of people wanting to get road access in that region.
“What’s new is the Grays Bay proposal came along about three years ago and has been working its way forward as more and more people are supportive of seeing deposits developed in the Kitikmeot region.”
The first phase of the project has a $487-million price tag, though the Nunavut government and the Kitikmeot Inuit have applied for federal funding for three- quarters of the cost.
Eventually, the road could be a vital link that connects western Nunavut to Yellowknife, and the rest of Canada.
Road project been tried before
MMG, a mining company based in Australia, has proposed a zinc mine in the region at Izok Lake, but the cost to reach the metals is prohibitive.
Back in 2012, the company made its own pitch for a 350-kilometre road in the area, linking its mine to Grays Bay. But the project stalled at the review stage.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended the project undergo further review because of potential “significant adverse affects on the ecosystem, wildlife habitat or Inuit harvesting activities, [and] adverse socioeconomic effects on northerners.”
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