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BIPAR environmental review delayed another year
Proponents will collect more data before process proceeds

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 25, 2010

KINNGUAK/BATHURST INLET - The regulatory process for the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project (BIPAR) has been delayed by another year as the proponents seek out more data on the potentially large Nunavut infrastructure project.

"We've gotten correspondence from the proponents of the BIPAR project ... (saying) that they are intending to be collecting field (data) this summer season but not intending to reactivate the NIRB process," said Ryan Barry, a technical director with the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB).

According to the letter, "The purpose of this field season will be to collect additional data required to address comments raised during the technical review process."

In October, Charlie Lyall, president of Kitikmeot Corp., said NIRB's technical review of BIPAR which is only partially complete could recommence this year.

"In early 2010, we hope to request additional funding and proceed with recommencing the technical review process," Lyall said at the time.

BIPAR is the brainchild of the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Joint Venture Ltd., co-owned by Kitikmeot Corporation and Nuna Logistics Limited.

"...we anticipate proceeding with the technical hearing process in the second quarter of 2011," the letter stated.

Whenever it goes ahead, BIPAR will be a boon to the economy of Nunavut.

The project's draft environmental impact statement said BIPAR will create 260 construction jobs, with possibly 30 per cent of positions held by Inuit.

Payroll over the three-year construction period is pegged at $40 million, while operations will employ 57 full time workers, with a yearly payroll of $3.5 million.

Last year, the project received a boost when MMG Resources (formerly OZ Minerals) reconsidered BIPAR as a means of transporting ore out of its Izok Lake base metals project near Kugluktuk.

Previously, MMG was mulling an alternate $450 million supply road that went up to Grays Bay on the Coronation Gulf, plus a $265 million port to service Izok, which is located 245 km southeast of Kugluktuk.

But when estimates for that system yielded unfavourable returns, MMG set its sights again on BIPAR.

"As a result of that work, we turned our mines back to BIPAR because it's a shorter route over easier terrain and therefore is a much lower cost option for us," said Martin McFarlane, president of MMG's Canadian division.

A preliminary estimate using BIPAR "was favourable," continued McFarlane. "That generated quite attractive economics Therefore, our go-forward work this year is to extend that study to the next level of certainty, which is a pre-feasibility study. It gives you much greater economic certainty."

A pre-feasibility study taking BIPAR into account should be completed by the end of the year, he added.

Sabina Gold and Silver Corporation, which is developing the Hackett River precious metals project near Bathurst Inlet, has also expressed interest in using BIPAR.

But with no indication of government support for BIPAR, Sabina may have to build its own road, said Peter Manojlovic, chief geologist for the company.

"Sabina has done recently this preliminary economic analysis and in that, we developed our own road and port. But that costs a lot of money, and it's something that distracts from doing what we really want to do, which is to mine ore and develop a mine," he said.

"So anything that we can work with the government and develop whether it's BIPAR or something else is definitely something that we'd like to get involved in in the future. But that process isn't moving nearly as fast enough as we need it to. Our plans our we will have to develop it ourselves."

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