Mining and mineral exploration activities
Nunavik occupies 36%, or 500,000 km2, of the territory of Québec. In 2020, there were over 23,000 mining claims in the region, three active mines, three mining projects at advance planning stages and mineral exploration activities occurring throughout the region. The KEAC is concerned about the potential impacts of mine development on Nunavik’s natural and social environments and closely monitors regulations applicable to mineral exploration and mining. The KEAC is focused in particular on the multiplication of impact assessment procedures applicable to mining development activities.
Hopes Advance mining project
Oceanic Iron Ore Corporation undertook mineral exploration in the Aupaluk area with a view to building, operating and decommissioning an iron mine and associated infrastructure. Concerned about the project’s potential environmental and social impacts, the KEAC visited the company’s temporary camps in June 2012. It also met with local and regional stakeholders in Aupaluk to find out about the state of local mineral exploration activities. The KEAC is concerned that several different impact assessment procedures are applicable to this project and is continuing to monitor the project closely and raise its concerns with the appropriate parties.
The Kativik Environmental Quality Commission and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada are reviewing this project:
- Environmental and social assessment by the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission
- Environmental assessment by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
The Raglan mine, which is operated by Glencore, is located about 50 km north of Parc national des Pingualuit, between the villages of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq. During the public consultations conducted by the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (the environment and the fight against climate change) in November 2010, the KEAC voiced concerns regarding the mine’s depollution attestation. As a result, some sections of the attestation were modified, including those pertaining to dust emissions and light pollution. These problems are in particular affecting the park.
Asbestos Hill mine site
The current state of the Asbestos Hill mine site (Purtuniq), operated from 1972 to 1984, is a concern for Inuit and the KEAC due to continued erosion at the site that is exposing mine tailings and previously buried materials.
In March 2014, the KEAC co-hosted public hearings in Nunavik with the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (environmental public hearings committee) as part of its mandate to review and hold public hearings on the uranium industry in Québec.
In July 2015, the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques released the report concerning the investigation and public hearings on the uranium industry in Québec prepared by the Bureau. Section 13 of the report, which has been translated into Inuktitut, Cree and English, covers Northern Québec and was prepared jointly with the KEAC and James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment.
The KEAC continues to examine mining legislation and policies with impacts on the environmental and social protection regime in Nunavik. The KEAC believes that it is important to strengthen mining legislation in the region. Recent actions include:
- Feedback submitted to the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (energy and natural resources) on amendments to the Mining Act.
- Feedback submitted to the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles as part of the review of Québec’s role in the development of critical or strategic minerals.
- Feedback submitted to the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles on the Aboriginal Community Consultation Policy specific to the Mining Sector.
- Feedback submitted to the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (the environment and the fight against climate change) on the Regulation to modify the Regulation on Mineral Substances other than Petroleum, Natural Gas and Brine (French only).