Caribou again dominate Western Nunavut gold mine project review – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – June 8, 2017)

Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. pitched its gold mine project again last week in Cambridge Bay with a 72-page exhaustive new plan to mitigate, manage and monitor any impacts to the three caribou herds and other wildlife near its proposed Back River gold mine in western Nunavut.

This was the second round of environmental hearings on Sabina’s Back River project in Cambridge Bay. The first, which took place in 2016, resulted in a negative recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board—and, with the additional mitigation, management and monitoring efforts, Sabina says it’s even, “more confident that there will be no impacts on caribou herds.”

Sabina’s plans for Back River include a chain of open pit and underground mines at its Goose property, located 400 kilometres south of Cambridge Bay and 520 km north of Yellowknife. The pits would operate for at least 10 years and involve filling, damming or draining lakes and streams, and building a 157-km road from the mine to a seasonal port facility and tank farm in Bathurst Inlet.

Yet, all that infrastructure would be created on lands through which the Bathurst and Beverly caribou herds migrate. In recent years, the population of the Bathurst herd has plunged to as few as 20,000 animals, down from nearly half a million 30 years ago.

Sabina says there is no overlap of its project, called Hannigayok in Inuinnaqtun, with the Dolphin/Ahiak herd and that it lies outside the Bathurst herd’s current range.

The four-day review, from May 31 to June 3, marked the first time in 20 years that the NIRB had been asked to reconsider a decision on a project and go back into another review process.

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