Archive | Caribou and Mining

Rejection of controversial project ‘a pretty hard blow,’ says Yukon miner (CBC News North – July 19, 2018)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/

Second application to mine claims near Judas Creek rejected for Yukon miner

Nicolai Goeppel said he’s ready to throw in the towel after his second attempt to operate a placer mine south of Whitehorse was rejected by the Yukon government. “I really don’t know if it’s worth putting any more money and time into it,” Goeppel said.

Goeppel’s initial application for a placer mine in the Judas Creek area was rejected by the government in 2016, largely because of a potential negative impact on the Carcross caribou herd.

His second application reduced the number of claims to be mined from 45 to 15, the period of mining was reduced from 10 years to five years, and the timing of the operations was adjusted to minimize impact on the caribou. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Ontario Alliance of First Nations and Non-First Nations asks Feds to Hit the Pause Button on Species at Risk Policy (May 9, 2018)

May 9th, 2018 – An Alliance of First Nation and non-First Nation leaders in Ontario are concerned about the potential social, economic and environmental impacts of species at risk (SAR) policy being developed by the Federal Government and the current direction being proposed for managing and conserving caribou.

Al Spacek, President of FONOM and Mayor of Kapuskasing commented, “The Ontario Government has taken these concerns very seriously and have committed to achieving a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on species at risk, the cumulative impacts of all species at risk on a broad, dynamic landscape, and a much better appreciation of the socio-economic impacts on our communities.

However, delivering on this commitment will take time and we remain very concerned that the window of opportunity being provided by the Ontario Government is now being placed in jeopardy by our Federal Government.” Continue Reading →

Forestry exemption extended under ESA – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 4, 2018)

http://www.timminspress.com/

TIMMINS – An exemption under the Endangered Species Act that allowing forestry to maintain current operations has been extended by the province for another two years.

Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Nathalie Des Rosiers, who was in Timmins briefly this week, said she is encouraged by that. She said the effort will now be made to achieving a balance — protecting the habitat of woodland caribou while continuing to provide wood fibre to the forest industry.

Des Rosier did not offer any specific solution to that, but said a newly-formed roundtable is charged with finding several solutions.  “Yesterday (Tuesday), I had a really good roundtable in Hearst with different partners in the forestry industry,” Des Rosiers said in a brief interview with The Daily Press this week. Continue Reading →

How federal caribou protection policies could wreak widespread economic carnage across Canada – by Jesse Snyder (Financial Post – April 26, 2018)

http://business.financialpost.com/

Despite spending the better part of his career surrounded by endless stretches of boreal forest, John Unger has almost no first-hand knowledge of the boreal woodland caribou, a species whose survival instincts keep it deep in the woods and away from potential predators.

“I’ve never seen a caribou in my life,” said the chief executive of La Crete Sawmills Ltd., a northern Alberta facility that employs around 100 people and is named after the hamlet it’s located in.

But the naturally reclusive caribou could soon leave a major imprint on northern communities such as La Crete, Unger said, as Ottawa pushes ahead with contentious species protection plans to save threatened herds. Continue Reading →

‘It’s game over’: Last ‘Grey Ghost’ caribou herd is down to just three members, all female – by Adrian Humphreys (National Post – April 18, 2018)

http://nationalpost.com/

The last remaining herd of cross-border mountain caribou is now effectively extinct after an aerial count found only three survived the winter, all of them female.

The alarming census of the South Selkirk population of southern mountain caribou, placing it at a number meaning de facto extinction, comes after years of warnings from scientists and conservation groups.

Government biologists twice did the head count this spring, once in ideal conditions in fresh snow to help tracking from above, and found the alarming decline, said Mark Hebblewhite, a Canadian wildlife biologist at the University of Montana and a science adviser to the federal government. Continue Reading →

Alberta pushes back against federal caribou protection plan – by Kelly cryderman (Globe and Mail – March 20, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The Alberta government is pushing back against a federal deadline for a plan to protect woodland caribou under the Species at Risk Act, saying the still-fragile state of the province’s economy means it will suspend any consideration of setting aside conservation lands until it studies the socio-economic effects.

A strongly worded letter – in government terms – from Alberta to Ottawa Monday sets up the potential of a political showdown over environmental measures. It asks Ottawa to ante up more funding, saying the cost of restoration over the next four decades could top $1-billion and that even rearing facilities for caribou will cost $75-million.

Premier Rachel Notley’s government also said it is sending a delegation to Ottawa to discuss the “enormous undertaking to fulfill federal law,” and asks that Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna hold off from “prematurely implementing federal protection orders that will not have effective outcomes for Canadians and Albertans.” Continue Reading →

Human activity takes a toll on caribou habitat in Nunavik – by Sarah Rogers (Nunasiaq News – December 14, 2017)

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

Researchers at Université Laval say human activity in northern Quebec is damaging and reducing the extent of caribou habitat, along with the health of the herds that migrate through Nunavik each year.

A new study attempts to quantify that impact by looking at how the animals have shifted their ranges as roads and mines are developed in the region.

The two main migratory caribou herds in Nunavik have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years. The George River herd has plummeted from 800,000 animals in 1993 to just 9,000 in 2016, while the Leaf River herd has dropped from 600,000 caribou in 2001 to less than 200,000 today. Continue Reading →

Nunavut’s Dolphin and Union caribou herd deemed endangered – John Thompson (Nunatsiaq News – December 7, 2017)

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

A national committee of wildlife scientists now considers Nunavut’s Dolphin and Union caribou herd to be an endangered species. These stocky, large-hoofed animals spend their summers on Victoria Island and overwinter on the North American mainland. Their twice-a-year migrations across the sea ice of the Coronation Gulf have become increasingly perilous in recent years, as climate change causes the ice to freeze up later in the fall and to thaw earlier in the spring.

The growing use of icebreaking in the area is also being flagged as a major concern by scientists. The herd migrates across one of the routes of the Northwest Passage, which is seeing a growing number of transits.

And the herd roams not far from the proposed Grays Bay port and road that’s being aggressively pushed by the Government of Nunavut as a means of jump-starting mining projects in the region. Continue Reading →

Regulators need more clarity on ordering safeguards for mining projects, lawyers say (CBC News North – November 14, 2017)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/

Two lawyers are calling on the Northwest Territories to set clearer rules for how regulators can compel companies to include environmental safeguards in development projects.

John Donihee and Charles Birchall are presenting at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum this week on a concept they hope is included in any new changes to the territory’s environmental legislation.

It’s called the precautionary principle. The legal concept suggests regulators and governments be cautious and include environmental protections on projects that could harm the environment — even if it isn’t scientifically proven that the project will do any harm. Continue Reading →

Hunters still oppose winter sealift and railway for Mary River mine near Pond Inlet, Nunavut – by Sara Frizzell (CBC News North – October 11, 2017)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/

For several years, Baffinland Iron Mines has been trying to get permission for a railway and an extended shipping season for its Mary River mine — it’s still trying and hunters in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, are still opposed.

The mining company’s most recent proposal to the Nunavut Planning Commission was closed for public comments at the beginning of October and respondents are still wary of both elements of the revised plan.

In this iteration, Baffinland is looking for approval to build an 110-kilometre railway along the existing roadway, which connects the mine site to the Milne Inlet port site. It was also looking to extend the shipping season through to February by icebreaking. Continue Reading →

Resource firms face tougher rules if provincial action on threatened caribou deemed lacking – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – October 10, 2017)

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/

The federal government is warning it will impose tougher rules for resource companies working in the boreal forest unless provinces act to protect endangered caribou.

Companies involved in oil and gas, mining and forestry are facing a call from scientists and environmental groups that many threatened boreal caribou herds face extinction unless urgent action is taken to protect and restore habitat.

Industry officials, for their part, warn that regulatory uncertainty and the potential for restrictive regulations is jeopardizing investment and threatening the significant job losses in Northern and rural communities. Continue Reading →

Species at Risk policy fires up Northern leaders: Municipalities, industry, First Nations fear habitat protection rules could devastate forestry – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – October 4, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Queen’s Park can expect fierce resistance from Northerners if the province attempts to finalize controversial Species at Risk policy without proper consultation, said Kenora’s mayor.

“If they want to rush it through, they’re going to have a backlash like they’ve never seen before,” said Dave Canfield, past president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA). “There’s going to be a lot of us standing shoulder-to-shoulder.”

At issue are the new Species at Risk rules, designed to protect 28 species in Northern Ontario, which will be woven into the fabric of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA has raised the hackles of Northern leaders since it was passed in 2007. Continue Reading →

Plan may spur ‘environmental fragmentation’: conservationist – by Emily Blake (Whitehorse Daily Star – September 11, 2017)

http://www.whitehorsestar.com/

Some environmental groups are expressing concerns about the Yukon Resource Gateway Project

Some environmental groups are expressing concerns about the Yukon Resource Gateway Project following a commitment of more than $360 million in federal and territorial funding. The project will see improved road access in the Dawson Range, located between Carmacks and Dawson City, and the Nahanni Range Road in southeast Yukon, both mineral-rich areas in the territory.

And while members of the mining industry and government are applauding the funding announcement, there are concerns about the lack of information on environmental impacts. “We’re not supportive of these projects until we get more information,” Lewis Rifkind, a mining analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society, told the Star last week.

“We’re opening up vast swaths of the Yukon to environmental fragmentation.” He worries about how the infrastructure project might affect woodland caribou. He said an extreme example of this is logging and oil and gas roads in Alberta, where the woodland caribou population has been reduced to around 7,000. Continue Reading →

Heading into public hearing, Nunavut, Agnico Eagle disagree over caribou – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – September 5, 2017)

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

Final NIRB hearing into Whale Tail gold mine project starts Sept. 19 in Baker Lake

Parties planning to attend the upcoming public session on Agnico Eagle Ltd.‘s Whale Tail gold mine project near Baker Lake have plenty to read and think about between now and the public hearing set for between Sept. 19 and Sept. 22 in Baker Lake before the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

That’s because the mining company submitted a 208-page document to the NIRB Aug. 28, responding to multiple opinions expressed by stakeholders. This document contains detailed responses to comments that the NIRB received from such groups as the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization, Inuit organizations and the Government of Nunavut about Agnico Eagle’s Whale Tail project.

Despite the heavy use of acronyms and diplomatic jargon like “values” and “appreciates” in the document, it’s likely that big, unresolved issues around caribou will be among topics discussed in Baker Lake. Much of the discussion on caribou in Agnico Eagle’s response is heavily technical. Continue Reading →

Worries mount over what busy mining road in Nunavut could mean for caribou migration – by Sara Frizzell (CBC News North – August 29, 2017)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/

A vehicle could travel every 6 minutes from the Whale Tail pit project to the Meadowbank mine

Agnico Eagle’s proposed expansion of operations near its Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut, is facing opposition. The Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA), the Government of Nunavut and the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization have all expressed concern over how a roadway connecting a new open pit mine to processing facilities at Meadowbank will affect caribou migration.

Their concerns appeared in their final written submissions to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, submitted in advance of the final public hearing on the project, which begins on Sept.19 in Baker Lake. Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. had an Aug. 28 deadline to submit its written response to concerns before the hearing.

The new mining operation — the Whale Tail pit — is about 50 kilometres northwest of Meadowbank. It would operate as an open pit mine for between three and four years, and requires a road connecting it to milling facilities at Meadowbank. Agnico Eagle expects mining could begin as early as 2019. Continue Reading →