Warm feelings for Back River gold project at round 2 of final hearings in Cambridge Bay
An unprecedented second set of final hearings into a proposed gold mine in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region ended with broad consensus that the Back River project could provide jobs and opportunity — without harming already vulnerable caribou herds.
“I will be returning to my community with very good news,” said Shin Shiga, who travelled to the hearings in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, to represent the N.W.T.’s North Slave Métis Alliance. He arrived wary about the risks the project posed to caribou, and left confident in what he called a “very progressive project.”
Vancouver-based Sabina Gold and Silver wants to build an open-pit and underground gold mine about 150 kilometres south of Bathurst Inlet. The Nunavut Impact Review Board initially rejected its plans after hearings in 2016 left open questions about caribou and climate change.
But the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs ordered a second set of hearings, which wrapped up Saturday. Matthew Pickard, Sabina’s vice president of environment and sustainability, spent much of the hearings outlining plans to protect caribou.
“Our objective is to have no impact on caribou herds as a result of this project,” he said. The proposed mine lies on the eastern fringe of the Bathurst caribou range and in the midst of the range of the Beverly/Ahiak herd, but does not significantly infringe on the calving or post-calving grounds of either herd.
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