Final hearing on future of Meliadine gold mine begins in Rankin Inlet
Agnico Eagle proposes to install wind turbines, extend mine life by 11 years
Meetings on a proposal that could change the future of Agnico Eagle's Meliadine gold mine get underway in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Tuesday.
The Nunavut Impact Review board will host technical meetings and a site visit followed by a community roundtable that will run until Sept. 20.
the Meliadine gold mine lies about 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet and 80 kilometres southwest of Chesterfield Inlet. It was first approved in 2015.
The proposal now under review would extend the life of the mine by 11 years, until 2043.
Part of the proposal includes an 11-turbine wind farm to provide power to the mine.
Previously approved as an open pit operation, the current proposal also includes options for underground mining and is seeking approval to store tailings in open pits that are no longer being used.
The company also wants to improve access via the Tiriganiaq-Wolf portal to an underground mine that was already approved, along with infrastructure to support the Tiriganiaq-Wolf portal.
Caribou at issue
In its final written submission to NIRB, the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KivIA) said although it has addressed its concerns with the mine over the past months, many issues still remain.
The KivIA "strongly opposes" the wind farm in its current proposed location.
"The impacts of wind turbines on barren ground caribou herds have not been studied in enough depth to truly understand the potential impacts, required monitoring, and adaptive mitigation," its submissions states.
The association also raised issues around caribou protection and concerns about how more mining activity could affect herds.
"The KivIA recommends that the proponent undertakes a fine-scale description and analysis of caribou exposure and movements in the vicinity and at the mine site to assess if the extension project will impact caribou exposure and movement."
The Government of Nunavut echoed some of KivIA's comments in its submission.
"It is a concern that the potential impacts to caribou have not been adequately assessed. The assessments for caribou are lacking in many cases due to outdated or inapplicable data," wrote Dianne Lapierre, the manager of environmental assessment and regulation with Government of Nunavut Economic Development and Transportation (GNEDT).
Lapierre also noted that the proposed wind farm is something that caribou in the Kivalliq have not experienced before.
Jobs also at issue
Despite its concerns, the GN also supports the mine's extension because of it will create more jobs.
"The GN continues to see great opportunity with an increased life of mine such as increased employment and business opportunities and through community partnerships," Lapierre wrote.
Tara Arko, the director of technical services with the Nunavut Impact Review Board, said eight organizations and six federal government departments and the Government of Nunavut have registered as intervenors at the hearing
"We will be partly conducting the hearing in the community hall in Rankin Inlet and for one afternoon doing a visit to site so that all the major parties and intervenors and the community representatives can see the existing infrastructure and how it might be built on," Arko said.
Arko said the NIRB first received Agnico Eagle's extension proposal in April 2022.
Following the hearing, the NIRB will send its recommendation to the federal Minister of Northern Affairs Daniel Vandal, who has the final say on whether it is approved.
- A previous version of this story listed an incorrect job title for Dianne Lapierre.Sep 13, 2023 4:40 PM CT