North: Whale Tail mine expansion undergoes public hearings this week in Baker Lake – by Sara Frizzell (CBC News North – August 27, 2019)

Open pit mine began commercial production this summer

Plans to expand the newly opened Whale Tail gold mine, near Baker Lake, Nunavut, are the subject of public hearings this week in the community.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board is running the consultations Monday through Thursday. It’s reviewing plans to increase the size of the Whale Tail open pit, to start another open pit near a site called IVR and to start underground mining.

Community representatives from Baker Lake and other Kivalliq-region communities will have their say at the hearings along with the territorial and federal governments. Agnico Eagle began mining operations at Whale Tail this summer with approval to run for three or four years and mine 8.3 million tonnes of ore.

The expansion would increase the amount of ore to 15.2 million tonnes and extend the life of the mine to 2025. There are no processing facilities at Whale Tail, so the gold is transported by long-haul trucks down a 50-kilometre road to Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine.

Other expansion plans for the mine site include widening the road from its current 9.5 metres to 15 metres. The road expansion and its impact on caribou is the main concern of the Baker Lake hunters and trappers organization (HTO) and the Kivalliq Inuit Association.

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