The Nunavut government should take an official stance on uranium mining before an environmental review can proceed on a proposed uranium mine in the territory, according to a local advocacy group.
Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit is calling on the Nunavut Impact Review Board to stop its environmental review of Areva Resources Canada Inc.'s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut, until the territorial government develops a uranium mining policy.
"We thought that the process should be halted on the environmental review of the Kiggavik uranium mine until [the Nunavut government] takes a position," Sandra Inutiq, who chairs the group, told CBC News on Monday.
While the Nunavut government has a set of guiding principles for uranium development in the territory, it has no clear or firm policy.
The board is in its early stages of reviewing Areva's proposal to build an underground and open-pit uranium mine at its Kiggavik site, located 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake in Nunavut's Kivalliq region.
Forum slated for 2011
Last month, Premier Eva Aariak said a territory-wide forum on uranium development will take place early next year.
"It's important to eventually help us to formulate our policies," Aariak said at the time.
Inutiq said Inuit organizations like Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Kivalliq Inuit Association have direct financial interests in uranium development, so it is critical for the territorial government to have its own policy.
"Let's have a consultation process take place where Nunavummiut are given an opportunity to voice their concerns or lack thereof," Inutiq said.
But Barry McCallum, Areva's director of Nunavut affairs, said the company stands by the Nunavut government's current set of guiding principles.
"The environmental assessment process in place is a very good process," he said. "The government of Nunavut, in 2007, released its six guiding principles, and we are working with the understanding that we'll have to meet those."
An official with the Nunavut Impact Review Board told CBC News it will respond to Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit's concerns later this week.