No consensus at Kiggavik uranium mine hearings in Baker Lake
About 150 people are attending the final hearings on Areva Resources's proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut, this week.
Areva was in the community presenting its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the project.
The proposed uranium mine and milling operation about 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake would take three to four years to construct and would be expected to operate for 12 years. Areva says the mine would pay more than a billion dollars in royalties to the territorial and federal governments.
"We commit to ongoing communications so the communities are aware of what we're doing," said Barry McCallum, manager of Nunavut affairs for Areva Resources Canada.
"It's very important to us that the Kivalliq communities benefit from the project."
Areva says construction of the mine is expected to create up to 750 jobs; the operating mine will create up to 600 jobs.
Local businessman Peter Tapatai resigned his position as Baker Lake representative with the Kivalliq Inuit Association in order to freely support the Kiggavik mine.
He says the people in Baker Lake used to live on welfare before the mines, but now people can afford to put food on tables.
He says the Nunavut Impact Review Board is there to protect the environment.
Eva Voisey of Whale Cove, who attended the hearings, says people were not given enough time to share their concerns.
"We're here to share our ideas, although we're not given enough time to speak," she said. "And as Inuit, we need to speak out because that's the only way to express our concerns."
She says she opposes the project and that Inuit are just giving up their land while the company takes the money.
Maggie Perkison of Baker Lake expressed concern that Areva will only be in the region for a short period.
"After watching on television how much mess they've created on some areas of other people's lands, I got scared of what they could do to our land on a long-term basis," she said.
Perkison says animals are the only source of affordable food in the North and it is important that the animals are protected.