Immersed in study
WKSS heads to Ekati for meetings

Kim Barraclough
Northern News Services

NNSL (July 05/99) - The board and committee members of the West Kitikmeot/Slave Study (WKSS) got up close and personal with the subject of their studies when they held meetings at BHP's Ekati mine site from June 22 to 25.

"It made sense to have the meeting up there," said Bill Carpenter, environmental representative on the management board of the WKSS.

Carpenter reacted positively to the operations at Ekati and the working environment that has been created.

"It's very impressive. It's a clean type of operation," said Carpenter.

The WKSS is a regional environmental, socio-economic and traditional knowledge study which analyses the mineral-rich area that reaches from the Arctic Coast to Great Slave Lake.

Ekati was chosen because it is an active diamond mining site where the board and committee could learn more, first hand, about mining environments.

Allen Maghagak, executive assistant to the first vice-president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., agreed with fellow study member Carpenter that the site was impressive.

"Incredible -- my first reaction was 'Incredible operation,'" said Maghagak.

He said he was particularity struck by the intensity of the security system at the site, saying "I was impressed with it."

Maghagak said that at times it felt like the site was something of an isolated correctional centre.

He also noted that the mine's priorities were obvious: other than the diamonds, "safety was first and foremost."

The group got a full tour of the site which included seeing the pit.

Maghagak said he was also impressed with Ekati's approach to the environment.

As for the meetings, Maghagak said that being isolated at the mine was a good thing. He said there was much to be discussed and it helped to have nowhere else to go and nothing else to really distract them other than being surrounded with a part of their study subject.

The WKSS has contributed more than $5 million towards environmental, socio-economic and traditional knowledge research in the West Kitikmeot/Slave region since 1996.

They currently have research projects under way which examine wolverine, grizzly and wolf populations, caribou migration routes and calving grounds, water quality, and the effects of mining development on neighbouring communities.