A proposed uranium mine in Nunavut is causing concern in Saskatchewan

The Athabasca Denesuline don't want the uranium moving through — or over — their traditional territory.

At issue is Areva Resources’ Kiggavik project near Baker Lake.

Areva proposes to fly concentrated uranium from Kiggavik to northern Saskatchewan, then move it from there by truck and train.

In a letter to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, the Athabasca Denesuline say they’re worried about possible accidents and "irreversible destruction" to the environment.

Barry McCallum of Areva says the concerns are overblown.

“Impacts to wildlife would be expected to be low, localized and temporary,” he says. “Because spills are relatively easy to clean up. And that's all in the draft environmental impact statement"

Areva plans to fly about 5,000 tonnes of concentrated uranium each year the 800 km from Kiggavik to Points North, Sask., likely using a Hercules C-130 aircraft. 

That would average almost one plane load per day.

The Athabasca Denesuline says the flight path would be almost entirely over their traditional territory.

Nobody from the Athabasca Denesuline was available to speak to CBC.

The Kiggavik project is still under review.

Areva hopes to start mining by 2020, at the earliest.

Nunavut residents consider future of oil and wildlife in Lancaster Sound

"Will the oil and gas potential have a role in this? Absolutely."


There’s an ocean of oil lying under the proposed conservation area of Lancaster Sound, Nunavut.

But the area is also home to more than a million birds, Canada’s largest polar bear subpopulation and an estimated 75 per cent of the world’s narwhals.

Which makes Lancaster Sound spectacular in many ways.

Members of the public heard a lot about oil, gas and wildlife Dec. 2 at a public consultation meeting in Iqaluit to discuss a proposed National Marine Conservation Area in Lancaster Sound, the body of water which separates northern Baffin Island from Devon Island.

If the conservation area is approved, there would be no oil and gas extraction there, but it all depends on how the map is drawn. It’s still in preliminary stages and areas rich in natural resources could be excluded.

There certainly is incentive for that. Based on the most recent Parks Canada research in Lancaster Sound, the seabed contains 13 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 4.5 billion barrels of oil.

“These are very large numbers, ones that we don’t often use,” said Natural Resources Canada project geologist Danny Wright. “It’s hard for us to imagine how much that is.”

That amount of oil is comparable to the Hibernia oil field, off the coast of Newfoundland — the world’s largest oil platform.

Lancaster Sound is not the largest oil field in the world — that title goes to Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, thought to contain more than 100 billion barrels of oil.

But there’s still a lot of oil, explained Wright, enough to supply world demand for 50 days.

He warned that it’s just an estimate. To be sure about how much oil is in the sound, “you would have to go there and do drilling,” Wright said.

Parks Canada didn’t even look at other alternative gases, older rocks,  and a few other ways gas can be stored.

“There could be potentially more oil and gas in Lancaster Sound,” Wright said.

The tentative proposal for the National Marine Conservation Area by Parks Canada would cover just over 40,000 square kilometres.

“It’s actually quite huge,” Carey Elverum of Parks Canada said.

The reason Parks Canada is looking to protect the area is because critical wildlife thrives there.

There are “several species at risk” in the area, which include “bowhead, beluga, narwhal, and polar bear, that rely on Lancaster sound for critical life stages,” said Francine Mercier of Parks Canada.

About 75 per cent of the world’s narwhal population and 20 per cent of the beluga population reside in Lancaster Sound.

In addition, it’s home to 17 per cent of the Canadian polar bear population — the largest subpopulation in Canada.

“It also supports the largest seabird colonies in the Canadian Arctic. There’s about 350,000 pairs of seabirds. And if you count the non-sea birds, there’s about a million birds there,” Mercier said.

The amount of oil in Lancaster Sound doesn’t necessarily put the conservation area in jeopardy, said David Monteith of Nunavut Parks and Special Places. 

“The end result of the feasibility study is going to be a report that will have a variety of options,” Monteith said.

“Will the oil and gas potential have a role in this? Absolutely. We’re just not sure what that will be,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say the oil and gas potential will be the deciding factor — I think it’s just one component,” Monteith said.

The president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the environmental ministers for the governments of Nunavut and Canada all have to agree on a proposed plan.

But there’s a long way to go before the proposal takes shape.

Parks Canada is still in its feasibility assessment stage. After that, a steering committee report, an Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement and an interim management plan all need be completed before Parliament can pass the proposed conservation area. 

For now there are some discrepancies on what the map should look like.

The QIA travelled with Parks Canada to the affected communities of Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, and Clyde River.

The regional Inuit association then compiled data based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Their proposed area extends both west and east — at each opening of the Sound — from what Parks Canada is recommending.

The QIA boundary also cuts through land that has been leased out by the Canadian government to oil company Shell.

It is unknown how long the lease lasts, but the lease began several decades ago, according to the QIA.

“We’ve got to take in all information that feeds into the decision. Once we’ve been to all the communities, gathered all the information,” Elverum said, “the six steering committee members will sit down and look at all the information we have to make a decision on a recommendation.”

The QIA and Parks Canada will travel to the six communities again in early 2014 to get more feedback on their revised plans.


#1. Posted by eskimo joe on December 04, 2013

here’s how any deal should be like; iiba should change as follows: closet communities to sites for developments should receive 50% of any royalties of any sort (mining, oil doesn’t matter), 40% to the people of the region where development will be and the reminder to rio’s. sounds good? make this happen baffin then you will hear qia whistling a different tune. why should all that $$ goes to qia? so the staff can travel more? higher wages? benefit of the staff? better staff housing, more company vehicles? when inuit orgs screw up, they do screw big time. case in point baker lake should have taken most of the meadow bank benefits, not david and company.

#2. Posted by Selling Out?! on December 04, 2013

Seriously, why would this even be a consideration?! The impact this would have, aside from the possibility of a catastrophic accident, is so outrageous I, for one, have to strongly protest. This area, among others and all for that matter, is so entirely critical to the species that will be affected it is another step in the wrong direction for Canadians, humans and sadly the wildlife, which again come last in our selfish processes! Shame on us!


#3. Posted by jimmyy on December 04, 2013

Enough to supply world demand for fifty days?

Is that worth risking damage to the environment?

I have no idea!!

#4. Posted by Selling Out?! on December 04, 2013

Meant to add that as well, jimmyy. 50 days…sickening!

#5. Posted by Think about the consequences on December 04, 2013

I can’t believe eskimo joe is already considering the money involved. Although I know that big oil is a mammoth monster and under the conservative government, it has been hard to stop their progress, but I would hope that everyone would consider the future of Nunavut’s environment. 

Listen to this: 16 of the worlds largest cargo ships emit as much sulphur pollution as ALL CARS OF THE WORLD COMBINED. (
Now consider the fact that the IIBA for the Mary River Iron ore project was just approved and shipping to the north will increase dramatically starting in the summer of 2015 and increase year by year, eventually shipping year-round. 
The money flowing into Nunavut will be good economically, but will be an environmental disaster from just the increase in emissions. Destruction of our earth for generations, all in the name of advancement today. losing faith in humankind.

#6. Posted by Psea on December 04, 2013

I cant get my head around that this has even remotely been considered. The current government will not address the effect of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming so forget about them backing the people of the north and protecting their livelihood and way of life. This is some of last untamed wilderness on earth. Say no to this rape of the earth. Money spent on oil and gas exploration would go a long way into sustainable green energy.  TAKE A SNIFF HARPER . You cant even run your own office above board why should you run the country any differently. David Suziki was right.

#7. Posted by Bob on December 04, 2013

@5 There really isn’t that much money flowing into Nunavut from these projects, compared to the amount of money that the federal government injects into the GN each and every year.

The only money that Nunavut/GN could receive, would be a percentage of the “after cost” revenue that is generated.  Production costs in Nunavut for any mining/oil/gas project are incredibly high, so the money left after isn’t much, and most is pocketed by the select associations and their close associates.

Most of the consumables these mining projects use are not bought locally, they’re brought up from the South.  The same is true for most of the workforce. 

The vast majority of the Nunavut population will not see any benefit from these projects.

#8. Posted by jimmyy on December 05, 2013

Well I am not an expert, but Iknow that there are a lot of Inuit employed at the Mary River Project.

The said employees pay taxes, and support their families.

I might be wrong, but this is not costing the GN any money, I don’t think they are even involved in training, although the GN has trained a lot of HEO over the years.

This is now paying off!!

#9. Posted by jimmyy on December 05, 2013

Whatever the reason hamlets are in debt and laying off employees.

We have to support (feed) our families!!

QIA releases public version of Mary River IIBA

Royalty rate still not disclosed, few agreement details not included in plain language version

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association released the public version of the Mary River Project Inuit Impacts Benefit Agreement Dec. 6 — an agreement that sets out the working relationship between Nunavut Inuit and the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation.

“It is QIA’s wish to share theIIBA openly,” said QIA president Okalik Eegeesiak in a Dec. 6 release. “We believe this will provide an opportunity to strengthen our implementation efforts.”

The agreement would likely direct millions of dollars into QIA’s coffers after the mine moves into commercial production. The deal also came with a signing bonus.

But most of the financial arrangements contained in the IIBA remain confidential, including royalty rates and land lease payments, although QIA said “amounts received as a result of the project will be reported at each annual general meeting.”

The full impact and benefits agreement provides few details that aren’t already included in the plain language guide that was first released this past September, when QIA officially signed the deal with Baffinland.

The agreement lays out how royalities will be paid to QIA: quarterly, beginning with the first quarter after commercial production begins at the mine.

The royalty payment is defined as “the net sales revenue for a period multiplied by the royalty percentage.”

However, the royalty rate is no disclosed.

Those payments can be re-negotiated after 30 years, or once 1 billion tonnes of iron ore have been mined.

As part of the IIBA, an implementation budget will be created along with several funds, which include:

• business capacity and start-up fund — $250,000 per year paid by BIMC until commercial production begins;

• Ilagiiktunut Nunalinnullu Pivalliajutisait Kiinaujat Fund (a fund to offset negative social or cultural impacts created by the project and to help distribute benefits) — $750,000 per year paid by BIMC and QIA equally for the first six years;

• education and training fund — $1 million for the first two years the IIBA is in effect, paid by BIMC;

• scholarship fund — $25,000 each year paid by BIMC;

• workplace orientation programs; and,

• money to pay the costs associated with implementation of any rights, obligation or requirements of the IIBA.

An executive committee will be established to oversee implementation of the IIBA, made up three senior representatives from the QIA and another three from Baffinland.

That committee will meet four times a year, and will be tasked with coming up with the minimum Inuit employment goal at the mine; reviewing a list of training and education opportunities for Nunavummiut and looking at contract award issues.

Both the executive committee and a separate management committee respond to the need for any dispute resolution.

They’ll also hire two IIBA coordinators, along with Inuit monitors, an elder in residence, a QIA employment and training coordinator and environment monitors.

Baffinland is in the process of building an iron mine at Mary River in northern Baffin Island that start by producing 3.5 million tonnes of iron ore a year.



as of December 10, 2013:

#1. Posted by Tommy on December 09, 2013

Too bad only handful of people will actually benefit from this deal - not necessarily the beneficiaries - funny how NTI just increased the annual wages distributed to QIA, now signing bonuses and withheld info from those that serves - this is all wrong right from the get go

#2. Posted by InukShook on December 09, 2013

I know several beneficiaries and long time Nunavut residents who applied directly with Bafinland for jobs they are qualified for and been rejected or ignored. Meanwhile the 737 charter jet is flying up form St Catherines Ontario is full of non-Inuit workers. The Inuoit from Pond, Clude, Igloolik etc are only working in menial jobs. Just like Nanisivik and Cornwallis Island, majority of wqorkers will be from the south.

#3. Posted by Richard on December 09, 2013

Here is what I see is causing the problem with these so called agreements. Three representative from QIA and three from Baffin Island. Why is the company involved with the process that determines where or how the money is distributed and spent? It seems that all over the North, companies are coming up with hair brain ideals that serve very little good or meets very few priorities in our communities. These so called funds must be managed by the people it was meant for. No exceptions.

#4. Posted by pissed off on December 09, 2013

I agree with no 1 and 2 
But don’t forget that the jet flying these people is   “”“” Owned by an Inuit Company”“”
Or so they say!
What a joke!!!

#5. Posted by Olympic Trip Success on December 09, 2013

How is this “openly” when facts are withheld?

Did the lure of signing bonus get serious thinking put into the back pocket for the pressure of instant bonus “loss” to take over thinking?

For 30 years royalties are locked in at, who knows what rate, because they cannot be re- negotiated. When it’s hush hush it doesn’t sound like one side got a good deal. Does that mean the royalties in 20 years, 2033 are still at 2013 rate? Or do the royalties increase over the years, covering inflation/cost of living?

Why isn’t QIA talking with the facts? Are we people like the polar bears, wildlife getting next to nothing, only covered for the first 2 or 5 years of the 30 years mine? Will ITK be barking for the bears in Nunavut and people or saying shhh it’s our backyard.?

Giving the free Olympic trip seems to of been an outrageously successful strategy.

#6. Posted by Tommy on December 09, 2013

This deal no longer serves the Inuit Interests, only the few Interested Inuit.  Okalik likely has generous pay as Prez from QIA and now a Signing Bonus from BaffinLand?  Why is QIA so secretive? There is no competetion directly with this deal - all sole sourcing done by Baffinland to keep the costs from over inflation and pure profits from pure extracted iron.  The true cost of this pure Iron is sure profit all around - so why all the secrecy

#7. Posted by Truth on December 10, 2013

And the rich get richer, especially execs on these orgs! Where’s money to help me with food? Freight ? Hunting? Like usual these orgs that are supposed to protect OUR birthright just look out for themselves. I am sure the prez made her best frind the MP happy and the can both look forward to board positions with the corp and living down south permanently in the future

#8. Posted by Pilipuusi on December 10, 2013

Everything else aside, QIA is a private Corporation legally owned by the Inuit of the Qikiqtani region. It is not a publicly owned corportation. As a regular beneficiary in the community I feel isolated from the decision makers as much as any other beneficiary. But if you bring you NTI card and insist on seeing something only meant for beneficiaries, I bet you would get a lot more information than a non-beneficiary.

The key word here is ‘beneficiary’. If you live here and are not a beneficiary - get over it.

#9. Posted by Observer on December 10, 2013

Uninformed quote from #5 “Or do the royalties increase over the years, covering inflation/cost of living?”

If you read the article it says the royalty is a fixed percentage of Baffinland’s net sales revenue. Sales revenue, not profit. So this means it does not matter if Baffinland makes a profit. The more iron ore they sell the more royalty cash will flow into QIA. The value of the sales revenue will go up and down with the price of iron and it will go up and down with the rate of production at the mine. If Baffinland goes ahead with a future railway and port and 12 month shipping, the QIA royalties will quadruple and maybe more.

If the royalty percentage rate were known it would be pretty easy to come up with a ballpark figure for total royalty revenues every year. Problem is, probably 95 per cent of Baffin beneficiaries are too uneducated to understand this kind of information anyway.

This of course will make it easier for all the thieves inside the Inuit corporations to grab huge amounts of cash for themselves. Bring on the Baffin kleptocrats!

#10. Posted by Laughing Out Loud on December 10, 2013

Its funny reading the comments, they are all the same. The question is. Did the beneficiaries actually think they would benefit from the trip to the Olympics? Sounds to me that Harry, Okalik and Levi just got GOLD.
If you don’t stand up for yourselves you will get taken advantage off by the Gold diggers.
Don’t be so GD naive. That’s why you have the right to vote and denounce the wrongs against you.
It is sad that there isn’t a Mandela amongst you.

Congratulations to Baffinland let the bottom line grow..Big corporations know how to make money..


The Bell Tolls for Free Entry in Canada

Legal Victory for Yukon First Nation Will Have Implications Across the Country

The Ross River Dena First Nation have learned that the Supreme Court of Canada will not hear the Yukon Government’s appeal of an earlier decision that sharply rebuked the territory’s free entry mineral staking regime. This means the earlier decision of the Yukon Court of Appeal stands.

Ross River took the government to court over its practice of allowing mineral claims to be staked and early exploration activities to occur on the First Nation’s traditional lands without prior consultation or accommodation of their Aboriginal rights and title. (Yukon Conservation Society has a great animated graphic of claim staking in the Yukon.) The Judge hearing the case for the Yukon Court of Appeal agreed and found in favour of Ross River requiring the Yukon government to consult and accommodate Ross River’s Aboriginal rights and title before claim staking and before any exploration activities occur.

While the need to consult on later stage exploration activities is fairly well established in Canadian case law (though not respected in all jurisdictions) this is the first time the courts have clearly indicated the need to have consultation BEFORE a prospector or mining company stakes a property. The decision is an important recognition that claim staking is not free of impacts to Aboriginal title as it establishes a 3rd party interest that can greatly encumber future decisions about the land.

The Yukon government argued that they did not have a duty to consult because they were not actively making decisions about claim staking or early exploration. The Court of Appeal Judge didn’t buy that, stating:

“The duty to consult exists to ensure that the Crown does not manage its resources in a manner that ignores Aboriginal claims. It is a mechanism by which the claims of First Nations can be reconciled with the Crown’s right to manage resources. Statutory regimes that do not allow for consultation and fail to provide any other equally effective means to acknowledge and accommodate Aboriginal claims are defective and cannot be allowed to subsist.”

As is to be expected, there have been hyperbolic statements from the Yukon Prospectors' Association about the sky falling in on the industry. CBC quoted the Association’s president saying that:

Anything that detracts from the Yukon's otherwise good reputation as a place to invest in mineral exploration will make it tougher for us at the bottom of the food chain to defend the properties we're exploring.

The Prospectors' Association fails to recognise that persistent conflict and lack of clarity about the process for reconciling Aboriginal rights and title are as likely (if not more so) to scare away investors, as are extra steps involved in staking a claim, early consultation or the removal of some areas from access to staking in order to respect Aboriginal rights and title.

The need to address Aboriginal title before claim staking is likely to have implications across Canada as there is no jurisdiction that has a system in place to do so. Parts of some provinces and territories may be compliant with the Ross River decision on claim staking if a land use plan identifying areas open for staking has been agreed to with the Aboriginal peoples of the area. There are, however, relatively few areas where this is the case.

The requirement to consult before any exploration activities occur is likely to require modifications to most existing consultation processes. A possible exception is Ontario, where new regulations require consultation by mining companies before they file work plans or request exploration permits.

Provincial, territorial and the federal governments will likely argue that the decision doesn’t apply to areas with historic or modern treaties as their interpretation of the treaties is that they extinguish all prior Aboriginal rights and title. Aboriginal signatories and some legal experts disagree with the Crown’s interpretation of the treaties and will likely push to apply the decision more broadly.

Areas without historic or modern land-based treaties include most of B.C., parts of Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, and all of the Maritimes.  In theory, there should be few barriers to applying the full scope of the Ross River decision to these areas.

The Yukon government was mandated by the court to respond to its decision by the end of the year but their response so far indicates they do not intend to apply the decision outside of the Ross River area. Whether other territorial and provincial governments see the writing on the wall remains to be seen. If past history is any indication, it may take more lawsuits to ensure they live up to the standard established by the Ross River case - a pattern that has caught the attention of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Committee's 2012 report on Canada expressed concern "that Aboriginal peoples incur heavy financial expenditures in litigation to resolve land disputes with the State party owing to rigidly adversarial positions taken by the State party in such disputes."

NOTE: The full Ross River vs. Yukon Court of Appeal decision is quite readable and available here. A few select quotes are included below.

[43] I fully understand that the open entry system continued under the Quartz Mining Act* has considerable value in maintaining a viable mining industry and encouraging prospecting. I also acknowledge that there is a long tradition of acquiring mineral claims by staking, and that the system is important both historically and economically to Yukon. It must, however, be modified in order for the Crown to act in accordance with its constitutional duties.

[44] The potential impact of mining claims on Aboriginal title and rights is such that mere notice cannot suffice as the sole mechanism of consultation. A more elaborate system must be engrafted onto the regime set out in the Quartz Mining Act. In particular, the regime must allow for an appropriate level of consultation before Aboriginal claims are adversely affected.

[51] At least where Class 1 exploration activities will have serious or long-lasting adverse effects on claimed Aboriginal rights, the Crown must be in a position to engage in consultations with First Nations before the activities are allowed to take place. The affected First Nation must be provided with notice of the proposed activities and, where appropriate, an opportunity to consult prior to the activity taking place. The Crown must ensure that it maintains the ability to prevent or regulate activities where it is appropriate to do so.