(April 6, 1990) In a victory for forces opposing the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake (Northwest Territories, Canada), the Baker Lake Hamlet community voted a resounding "no" to the project.
(330.3300) WISE Amsterdam - The plebiscite on the Kiggavik question, promised in February by the Baker Lake Hamlet Council (see WISE News Communique 328.3283), was held Monday 26 March and 90% of the voters opposed the mine. Although this certainly is not an end to the fight, it is still a big success.
Meanwhile, though, the territorial government has refused to take a (public) stand, leaving those affected by the proposal with no support and a lot of anxiety. A motion seeking unequivocal opposition by the Territories' Legislative Assembly to the mine was left hanging in early March when the issue was put before the Assembly's Committee of the Whole for discussion. The motion, put forward by legislators Peter Ernerk and Don Morin, didn't even get past opening comments before Justice Minister Mike Ballantyne moved that it be referred to the Committee.
"Referring the motion to the committee for debate means it could be delayed until next fall," said Ernerk. Ernerk says he and Morin proposed the motion on behalf of the thousands of Inuit who live in "day-to-day fear" of the proposed mine. But, he added, "The government's tactics are clear. They (the cabinet) don't see relieving the great anxiety of the people as a priority."
Urangesellschaft Canada Ltd. has already sutmitted its Environmental Assessment Report on the proposed mine. The German-owned Urangesellschaft (UG) wants to spend CDN $150 to 175 million for the development of the mine and mill complex near the arctic circle. The total uranium contents of the deposit is estimated at 17,800 metric tons at an average grade of 0.48%. Although this will be the first uranium mine in an arctic area, environmental impacts are regarded as negligible by UG.
To date, opposition to the proposed mine has been clearly demonstrated by Keewatin residents by way of petitions (1,700 signatures) from five communities. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference has also offered its full support to the Inuit. And in addition to the Baker Lake community, the proposed mine is opposed by the Keewatin Inuit Association, the Keewatin Regional Council, the Keewatin Wildlife Federation, the Beverly Kaminuriak Caribou Management Board, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut, a citizens' committee from nearby Rankin Inlet, the NWT Federation of Labour, Ecology North and Nuclear Free North.
- Phone call from Jack Hicks(Canada), 28 Mar. 1990
- Nunatsiaq News (Canada), 9 Mar. 1990
- NuclearFuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990.
Contact: Keewatin Inuit Association, P0 Box 240, Rankin Inlet, NWT, Canada X0C OGO, tel: +1-819-645- 2800 or 2805, fax: 819-645-2348
The Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Summary Report is available from Paul Scott, Executive Secretary, Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Panel, Suite 510, 750 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 2P2, tel: +1-604-666-2431.