for adverse cumulative ecosystemic and socio-economic effects must
factor prominently into the assessment"
map shows the location of Grays Bay in Nunavut, located some
800 km north of Yellowknife in Nunavut. (FILE IMAGE)
The huge Grays Bay Road and Port project proposed for western
Nunavut will undergo a full environmental review that will scrutinize
the impacts of more mining and shipping on the regions residents
and environment, the Nunavut Impact Review Board said late Wednesday.
The responsible federal ministers said in a Jan. 15 letter to
the review board that they have accepted its recommendation to refer
the Grays Bay project proposal for a full environmental assessment,
a process that the the NIRB
had recommended last October in its screening report.
The federal approval now triggers a lengthy 10-step process
that will include a public hearing. That process will get underway
with the issuing of guidelines from the NIRB for the projects
detailed environmental impact statement.
The $500-million Grays Bay project would include a port at the
Coronation Gulf on the Arctic Ocean and a 230-kilometre all-season
road between the port and the site of the abandoned Jericho diamond
Grays Bays first phase would involve the construction
of an airstrip, a wharf capable of handling deep-sea ore carriers,
offices and accommodation for permanent staff, a tank farm, a small
craft harbour, a diesel generator and more.
The second phase, not part of the current proposal, would see
a 95-km all-season road running from Jericho to the Northwest Territories
border, where it would hook up with an all-season road to Yellowknife,
which the Government
of the N.W.T. wants to build in the future.
In its screening report on Grays Bay, the NIRB singled out five
issues that it said merit a close review.
The responsible ministers agree that these issues or concerns
should be given careful consideration in the course of its review,
said Stephen Van Dine, an assistant deputy minister of northern
affairs, in a Jan. 15 letter to the NIRB.
Those five issues, outlined again in a letter sent Jan. 17 by
NIRB to all the parties concerned in the Grays Bay project, are:
Potential cumulative effects of more mining in the Kitikmeot
region: the potential for adverse cumulative ecosystemic and
socio-economic effects must factor prominently into the assessment
of the Grays Bay Road and Port, and include the construction
of an all-weather connection to the N.W.T.
Other transportation infrastructure projects: other major
development projects currently under review by the NIRB, such as
the proposed Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project and the Izok Corridor
Project, have the potential to confuse or complicate the assessment
of the Grays Bay Road and Port Project, the NIRB said.
Effects of increased shipping in the Kitikmeot region:
Gold and Silver Corp.s Back River Mine plans annual shipping
from Bathurst Inlet at the same time as other shipping operations
for the Doris North Gold Mine and for annual resupply to communities
in the Kitikmeot regions. That means Grays Bay could contribute
significantly to the increasing frequency and amounts of goods and
fuel being shipped within the Kitikmeot region.
Effects on the Bathurst caribou herd: the project lies
partly within the calving and post-calving areas of the Bathurst
herd and along the herds migratory route between Nunavut and
Transboundary issues: the project has the potential for
adverse effects on the Bathurst caribou herd and may impact traditional
harvest activities of communities in Nunavut and the N.W.T.
For the review process on Grays Bay, INAC said it would consider
the need for providing access to participant funding to support
the review, if there is a demonstrable need.
Earlier this year, the Government of Nunavut, a proponent of
the Grays Bay project with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, said
it would spend $2 million on the NIRB environmental review process
for Grays Bay and make this project ready for consideration.
The challenge for project promoters now is to raise the $500
million needed to build it, which likely cant come from a
single source, such as the new national trade corridors fund, which
has only $400 million over 11 years for the three territories.
The KIA has said it supports a full NIRB assessment because
government money wont start to flow unless there is an environmental
assessment and regulatory approval.
You can find more information at the Grays
Bay Road and Port website.
There are also multiple documents related to the NIRBs
environmental screening at the NIRBs
online public registry.