Nunavut regulators ponder hovercraft proposal from Agnico Eagle (Nunatsiaq News – April 11, 2017)

“Best overall alternative for exploration from an environmental and economic perspective”

If you’ve ever seen a hovercraft in action, it was probably shown whipping through the Everglades in Florida. But Agnico Eagle Mining Ltd. would like to bring two hovercraft to Nunavut’s Kivalliq region this summer for use in a pilot project that is now awaiting an April 17 screening decision from the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

By design, hovercraft can be used on water and land, taking people or industrial loads over small and large rivers, lakes, swamps, snow, soil, packed ice bogs, tundra, and coastal seas throughout the year.

And hovercraft have resolved numerous logistical and transportation problems in Siberia and the Far East, Agnico Eagle said in its project proposal to the NIRB. “It is expected that they will also be applicable in Nunavut and may have future all-season benefits for Nunavummiut,” Agnico Eagle said.

The mining company, which operates the Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut, said the hovercraft technology is, “the most cost-effective and best overall alternative for exploration from an environmental and economic perspective.”

But the Kivalliq Inuit Association has said it opposes the hovercraft project because it will add more disturbance to an already intense activity area.

“The Kivalliq Inuit Association do not support this project at all,” the KIA said this past February, in comments to the NIRB.

In its response to the KIA’s comments, Agnico Eagle said the company remains committed to continuing to work with the KIA, and coming to an agreement on the use of hovercraft in the Kivalliq.

The company said hovercraft produce less noise and damage to the land—and, unlike permanent trails and roads, the use of hovercraft would not put additional hunting pressure on caribou, “thus reducing the predicted cumulative impacts on caribou.”

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