Another Harper Project: Aboriginal Rights Overriding, Environmentally Hazardous, Lake Draining, and Arctic Port Risky
Four ministries of the Harper government will be conducting an environmental review of a new Chinese state-owned mining proposal, called the Izok Corridor project, in western Nunavut. While the project would involve spending billions of dollars in the Arctic, it would also result in "open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd. ... MMG (the Chinese firm) doesn’t expect the Harper government’s recent policy changes on investment by state-owned enterprises to affect Izok." because the firm sees itself as "not acquiring and operating assets that are producing. We’re in there as a long-term investor in a project that has been seen as quite marginal by others."
All of this would create only 1,100 temporary jobs and 700 permanent jobs for a mine that is scheduled to last only 12 years. "Izok Lake would have five separate underground and open-pit mines producing lead, zinc and copper. Another site at High Lake, 300 kilometres to the northeast, would have another three mines. MMG plans a port there that could accommodate ships of up to 50,000 tonnes that would make 16 round trips a year — both east and west — through the Northwest Passage. Izok Lake would be drained, the water dammed and diverted to a nearby lake. Three smaller lakes at High Lake would also be drained. Grays Bay would be substantially filled in." "(http://business.financialpost.com/2012/12/28/tories-mull-a-chinese-plan-...)
However more than 400 individuals, organizations, aboriginal groups and governments have registered concerns about this project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
" 'Both the Izok Lake mine site and the High Lake mine site, as well as the route of the Izok corridor all-weather road, occur either near to or on the Bathurst calving ground,' wrote the government of the Northwest Territories.
'The proposed project may cause significant adverse effects on the ecosystem and wildlife habitat,' wrote Environment Canada.
'We are concerned that our hunting and harvesting rights will be in jeopardy if the project is allowed to proceed as is,' added the Lutsel K'e Dene.
Many pointed out that the Bathurst herd has only recently stabilized after a 90 per cent drop in the 1980s to today's 32,000 animals. That drop was steep and sustained enough for aboriginal groups to stop hunting the herd and many are leery of anything that could impede its recovery.
'The project may also cause some adverse socio-economic effects such as possible reductions and disruptions in harvesting opportunities,' wrote the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, despite acknowledging its members are most likely to benefit from mining jobs.
The board also expressed concern about the growing industrial footprint in western Nunavut. There are now nine mines either operating or under review in the Kitikmeot region.
On Dec. 14, the board recommended Northern Development Minister John Duncan call full public hearings on the project. Duncan and the three other ministries involved — Transport, Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans — have three choices. They can send the project back to MMG and ask for changes, they can choose to let the board run hearings itself or they can decide the project's effects would be broad enough to require the involvement of other governments in hearings." (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/27/izok-corridor-china-arctic_n_236...)
With no Ministry of Environment involved, and four ministries (Northern Development, Transport, Natural Resources, and Fisheries and Oceans) that are notorious for their business bias, we all know what the outcome of this review will be despite the overriding of aboriginal rights, the foreign control of our natural resources, and the environmental damage created by lake draining, caribou habitat destruction, mine wastes, as well as Northwest Passage and port construction accident risks in the hazardous Arctic.