north-jericho-mine

An aerial view of the Jericho mine site, Nunavut's first diamond mine, located south of Cambridge Bay. (CBC)

Regulators in Nunavut are hoping new legislation will give them more power when it comes to making mining companies comply with regulations.

Currently, the Nunavut Impact Review Board can only issue terms and conditions for mine projects, but doesn't have the authority to enforce those terms or punish companies who violate them. 

Ryan Barry, the executive director of the NIRB, says something has to change. 

"We do have legislation coming through, we're waiting for it to come into force  the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act. That actually will carry prohibitions for not being in compliance or breaking terms and conditions of project certificates," Barry said. "So that will have fines, even up to and including jail time."

Shear Diamonds high priority

Shear Diamonds, the owner of the Jericho diamond mine site, has failed to meet certain basic requirements to maintain and monitor the site.

But the NIRB can't do much about it except ask for compliance.

Shear Diamonds took over the Jericho project a few years ago, hoping to re-open the mine. But money problems interfered and Shear quickly packed up and closed the site more than a year ago. It left behind barrels of waste, untreated fuel spills, and some unlucky investors.

The federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has been doing some basic monitoring, but the long-term future of the site, including any cleanup, is not known.

In the meantime, many are having trouble getting in contact with representatives from Shear Diamonds.

"We have had enough contact to get an appropriate name and listing of a contact that does maintain responsibility for Shear Diamond's affairs currently," Barry said. "That's about as far as we've gone.

"So as you'll see detailed in our public report, we really haven't had much success in engaging this particular proponent in the last year, neither have  to the best of our knowledge  other parties with monitoring responsibilities."