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.

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‘State-of-the-art’ caribou protection plans draw broad support for Sabina gold mine – by Sara Minogue (CBC News North – June 05, 2017)

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.

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Charity files suit against Environment Minister over lack of reports on endangered caribou – by Gloria Galloway (Globe and Mail – April 20, 2017)

OTTAWA — A national charity created to safeguard Canada’s lands and water is taking the federal Environment Minister to court for allegedly failing in her responsibility to monitor the protection of the endangered boreal woodland caribou.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is asking the Federal Court to find that Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is acting illegally by ignoring the section of the Species At Risk Act that requires her department to report regularly on the condition of the caribou’s habitat.

According to the Act, once a critical habitat for a species has been identified, the federal Environment Minister has 180 days to determine whether any portion of that habitat anywhere in Canada remains unprotected. The Minister must then report every six months on what steps are being taken to protect that habitat until full protection has been achieved.

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NEWS RELEASE: Sabina Gold & Silver Reports Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Deems Nunavut Impact Review Board Report Deficient, Refers Back to NIRB for Further Review

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – Jan. 13, 2017) – Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. (TSX:SBB), (“Sabina” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (“INAC”), with the agreement of other responsible ministers, has decided that the Back River Project (“Back River” or the “Project”) should be returned to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (“NIRB”) for further consideration under Section 12.5.7 (e) of the Nunavut Agreement.

On June 15, 2016, the NIRB recommended to the Minister of INAC that the Back River Project not proceed to the next phase of permitting at this time. Since that time, the Minister of INAC and the other responsible ministers have been considering the NIRB Report.

In her letter of January 12, 2017 to the NIRB, the Minister of INAC stated “After careful consideration…we are referring the Report back to the Board for further review or public hearings as the Report is deficient with respect to some ecosystemic issues.

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Nunavut hunters pleased but not surprised that feds rejected Areva’s uranium mine – by Sima Sahar Zerehi (CBC News North – July 27, 2016)

Feds said no to Areva’s Kiggavik uranium mine, backing Nunavut Impact Review Board

The Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization says it’s pleased but not surprised by the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’s decision to back the Nunavut Impact Review Board and reject Areva’s Kiggavik uranium mine. “We are pleased with the minister’s decision but not surprised,” said Joan Scottie, the HTO’s manager on behalf of chair Jamie Seekeenak.

The review board’s final report on the proposed mine near Baker Lake in the spring of 2015 rejected Areva Resources proposed Kiggavik mine on grounds that it lacks a definite start date and a development schedule. The board concluded that without this information it was impossible to assess the environmental and social impacts of the mine.

In her July 14 letter, Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, echoed the decision made by the review board.

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NEWS RELEASE: Caribou and Development Can Co-exist with Appropriate Mitigations

(Iqaluit, Nunavut – June 27, 2016) The NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines (the “Chamber”) is committed to provide the perspective of the exploration and mining industry to stakeholders and planning partners during the Nunavut Planning Commission’s land use planning process. The latest Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan was released on June 23, 2016.

“Despite what the Nunavut Planning Commission implies, no definitive link has been established between the current decline in caribou populations across the North and exploration or mining,” says Gary Vivian, President of the Chamber. “What has been presented in the latest version of the Nunavut Land Use Plan depicts questionable protection measures on top of questionable boundaries.”

The Chamber agrees with the Government of Nunavut’s position that, with effective mitigation measures and monitoring programs, mineral exploration and development activities can coexist with sustainable development in caribou calving grounds and access corridors.

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Endangered Species Act hot topic at upcoming NEOMA – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 25, 2016)

KIRKLAND LAKE – Concerns over Ontario’s Endangered Species Act continue to dominate discussions amongst Northeastern Ontario municipal leaders.

Less than two weeks after the annual meeting of FONOM (Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities) was held in Timmins, Northern leaders are now preparing for the annual meeting of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) which is to be held in Kirkland Lake this coming Friday.

Several items on the NEOMA agenda include The Endangered Species Act and what the implementation of the act means for Northern Ontario communities that rely on resource-based industries, such as logging and mining. The Act will be spoken to in a presentation to be made by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

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Despite the risk, western Nunavut communities want gold mine jobs – Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – May 2, 2016)

“I want our younger generation to have jobs”

CAMBRIDGE BAY — Jobs take precedence over the health of caribou herds, Kitikmeot community representatives said at the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s final hearing on Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.‘s Back River gold project.

When representatives of communities in western Nunavut spoke April 30, after more than 20 hours of roundtable presentations and discussions in Cambridge Bay, it was clear that dreams for a better economic future won over the fear of environmental damage.

“I want our younger generation to have jobs,” said Barnabe Immingark of Kugaaruk, who reported on his community’s support for the mine. “I heard a vision of the future. It made me think about the delicate balance of nature and that everyone can have an influence on the environment.

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Mining firm defends caribou monitoring plan against Nunavut critics – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – April 27, 2016)

“We don’t want to commit to something we can’t do”

CAMBRIDGE BAY — Participants at a Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing in Cambridge Bay hammered Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. for most of April 26 over how its proposed four-mine complex and 157-kilometre winter road can co-exist with two caribou herds that migrate through that area of western Nunavut.

The final regulatory hearing for the Back River gold mine, which got underway April 25, devoted nearly the entire day of April 26 to the company’s monitoring and mitigation plans for its Goose property, located 400 km south of Cambridge Bay and 520 km north of Yellowknife.

After presenting information about its many programs and actions designed to reduce impacts on caribou on April 25, Sabina fielded questions April 26 about its “adaptive management” plan for wildlife, which would see a staged response to mitigate damage to caribou from animals in the Beverly or Bathurst herds, which might be spotted close to the mine site by observers, cameras or via satellite collars.

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Western Nunavut gold project’s greatest impact could be on caribou – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – April 26, 2016)

Final hearing for Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.’s Back River proposal underway in Cambridge Bay

CAMBRIDGE BAY — The health of caribou: that’s what a positive recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board on the Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.‘s Back River gold mine project in western Nunavut could depend on.

Sabina’s scaled-down gold mining project, known as Hannigayok in Inuinnaqtun, is under environmental scrutiny at the final environmental hearing taking place before the NIRB in Cambridge Bay April 25 to April 30.

There would be no overlap with caribou during “sensitive” periods, Matthew Pickard, Sabina’s vice president for the environment and sustainability, said April 25.

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Nunavut board allowed mining exploration on Bathurst caribou calving grounds – by Sara Minogue (CBC News North – March 10, 2016)

2nd company allowed to proceed on breeding grounds against the advice of N.W.T. government

A second exploration company is making plans to work inside Nunavut’s caribou calving grounds — this time on the range of the dwindling Bathurst herd. And once again, it happened with the approval of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, and against the advice of the N.W.T. government.

Last spring Tundra Copper sought, and received, permission to search for copper on the Bluenose East calving grounds. Many in the N.W.T. only learned about it last week during hearings that will see several First Nations communities divide a drastically reduced harvest.

Also last spring, Crystal Explorations sought permission from the board for a multi-year diamond drilling exploration program at its Muskox Diamond project.

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NEWS RELEASE: COUNTING CARIBOU – Santa can exhale. (Ontario Forestry Industries Association – December 15, 2015)

December 15, 2015 – Despite declarations by special interest environmental groups that there is a caribou crisis in Ontario, a review of Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) research, scientific evidence, and an assessment of all available and up-to-date data demonstrates that caribou populations are persisting in Ontario.

“Caribou are the most abundant ungulate in North America. Woodland caribou, a forest dwelling variety of the species, is classified as threatened, however they also remain abundant in Ontario and their habitat is well protected.

MNRF has made a valiant effort to understand Ontario’s woodland caribou population’s spending $11 million dollars on a massive and productive research effort, with more than 50 projects being conducted by MNRF scientists and biologists, supported by academics and the forest industry.” commented Jamie Lim, President and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association.

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NEWS RELEASE: Santa Won’t Be Counting on Ontario: Ontario’s Boreal Woodland Caribou Still at Risk

TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2015 /CNW/ – In its third annual review of government action to conserve Canada’s boreal woodland caribou, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) finds there has been spotty progress – with too few jurisdictions showing significant leadership in protecting the species that long graced our 25-cent piece. Ontario is one of the jurisdictions CPAWS identifies as lagging in terms of action on the ground.

Under the federal Species-at-Risk Act, all provinces and territories are required to have plans in place to recover their boreal caribou populations by 2017, based on the 2012 Final Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou.

“In Ontario, we are deeply concerned that the situation for boreal caribou has not improved in the past 12 months,” says Anna Baggio, Director, Conservation Planning for CPAWS Wildlands League, the Ontario chapter working on large scale wilderness.

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COUNTING CARIBOU – by Ontario Forest Industries Association (May 2015)

How Did Canada’s Most Populous Ungulate End Up On Ontario’s Endangered Species List?

The caribou is the most abundant wild hoofed animal in Canada. With 3.89 million caribou spread across the country, there are more caribou than deer, moose, and elk combined. It is globally abundant, too, since the caribou of Canada is the same species as the reindeer of Eurasia. So how did the most widespread and populous ungulate end up on Ontario’s Endangered Species List? It’s all about how they were counted.

There are five subspecies of caribou in Canada, with “woodland caribou” being the most widespread. It lives in mountainous areas, mature forests, and very sparse forests, where its preferred food – lichens – are abundant. Woodland caribou number about 1.28 million in Canada, according to the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Canada. Accordingly, it is far too numerous for the subspecies to be considered at risk as a whole.

However, the woodland caribou subspecies has been subdivided into two ecotypes: the “forest-tundra ecotype,” which moves between habitats; and the “forest-dwelling ecotype,” which prefers to live in the woods. One of these ecotypes is less populous, and therefore considered threatened. Needless to say, if any animal population is subdivided enough times, the result is bound to be a very small population that can be considered at risk, threatened, or endangered. That could be what has happened with woodland caribou in Ontario.

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Not here, not now: Nunavut residents, others, still wary of uranium project – by Thomas Rohner (Nunatsiaq News – January 22, 2015)

“Will the caribou be safe? Will it be safe to eat?” Too many unaddressed community concerns persist for many Kivalliq residents, and others, to support Areva Resources Canada’s proposed uranium mine near Baker Lake.

That came across loud and clear from a number of organizations who submitted comments and recommendations on Areva’s final environmental impact assessment of the proposed Kivalliq project to the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

How Nunavut’s first uranium mine might affect nearby caribou herds, the absence of a project timeline, and the likelihood that this project would lead to other uranium mining and exploration in the area top the list of unaswered questions.

“In a nutshell, our concern is that there are uncertainties that have not been addressed in the final statement, that we have raised,” said Ross Thompson, executive director of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, in an interview Jan. 22.

The NIRB received comments and recommendations on Kiggavik from the caribou management board, along with 15 other local, territorial and federal agencies, as well as from a Baker Lake land claim beneficiary.

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