As Agnico Eagle Mining Ltd.‘s Whale Tail gold mining project heads toward a final hearing next month in Baker Lake, the mining company has until Aug. 28 to respond to critical comments on its project, recently received by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
The Kivalliq Inuit Association banked a $6.5 million cheque in Baker Lake from Agnico Eagle this past June, when the mining company and the KivIA signed an Inuit impact and benefit agreement for the Whale Tail project— Agnico Eagle’s third gold mine in Nunavut.
But several of the submissions to the NIRB reveal outstanding environmental and socio-economic concerns on the Whale Tail project which the mining company has been asked to address in advance of a final public hearing on the project, scheduled from Sept. 18 to Sept. 23 in Baker Lake. A look at the comments from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the Government of Nunavut and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization reveal some serious concerns about the project’s impacts.
A detailed list of concerns came from the Baker Lake HTO, which wants assurances that Agnico Eagle and the KivIA will work to ensure that “legacy benefits in the form of infrastructure and housing are provided to the community of Baker Lake.” The HTO said that the community of Baker Lake, with a population of about 2,000 people, “has not received substantial permanent benefits” from the Meadowbank gold project.
“While the employment opportunities have been very helpful for many families, when the gold runs out, we will not have any lasting benefits. We have seen no major improvements to our infrastructure or housing stock as a result of mining,” the HTO said.
In its letter to the NIRB, the HTO said it’s concerned “the majority of economic benefits from the Meadowbank Mine are flowing out of our community, while we are left to experience the negative social and environmental impacts.”
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