A petition looking to end the efforts of Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) to amend permits to allow for the building of a 42-km pipeline between the Meliadine gold mine and Itivia Harbour in Rankin Inlet has garnered more than 600 signatures to date.
The pipeline will transport large amounts of saline effluent from the mine to Itivia to be discharged into the bay.
The petition was started by the Kangiqliniq Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO), which claims AEM did not do its due diligence on the project by failing to go through a full community consultation process.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board has determined that a hearing will happen on the project, despite AEM’s claims that a full hearing on the pipeline should not be necessary.
Rankin HTO spokesperson Andrew Akerolik said it’s simply not acceptable for something the magnitude of a pipeline to be approved without a full consultation process that includes the local HTO.
He said it’s the HTO’s opinion that AEM was using the Covid-19 restrictions to its own advantage in trying to get the go-ahead from the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) to start construction on the pipeline.
“It’s our opinion that past community consultations concerning the Meliadine (gold) mine have not gone so well for AEM, so it’s trying to avoid them now altogether,” said Akerolik.
“There’s no way this should go ahead in any form without proper consultation and community involvement, and that includes having the Kangiqliniq HTO involved and not just the KIA and AEM.”
Akerolik said the growing number of people to sign the petition (603 as of press time) definitely shows a lack of support for the project by the people of Rankin Inlet.
The petition states that anyone who signs it agrees with the notion that the above-ground-pipeline project should not be permitted.
It further states anyone signing it shows concern that the pipeline would restrict hunting-ground access for hunters, and would likely impede the large caribou migration near Rankin Inlet and the Meliadine mine.
The petition further states that those who sign it expect AEM to be clearer in how it goes about proposing major changes to their mining project, and that the people of Rankin Inlet are fully informed about initiatives that could impact the community.
Akerolik said there will be a hearing on the project this coming fall and there shouldn’t be any work done whatsoever on the pipeline before then.
He said if the current Covid-19 restrictions are still in place and people coming up from the South to attend the hearing have to quarantine for two weeks in Winnipeg before entering Nunavut, so be it.
“I hope a large number of people in the community take part in the hearing and are allowed to have their comments and concerns heard.
“The community has to speak up and be heard on this matter before it’s too late.
“It’s no good after the hearing to be saying, ‘we should have said this or we should have said that.’
“This will be our one chance to have our voices heard and out concerns addressed. It will be too late after that.”