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Izok proposal now in Ottawa's hands
Mining company awaits decision on how environmental review will proceed for port and road proposal

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 28, 2013

A team of federal cabinet ministers are currently deciding what type of environmental review the Izok Corridor project being proposed by MMG Inc. will undergo now that the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) has completed its initial screening.

NNSL photo/graphic

MMG's Izok Lake exploration camp lies 255 km southwest of Kugluktuk. - photo courtesy of MMG Resources Inc.

MMG is proposing that a port and a 350-km all-weather road be constructed so lead, zinc and copper deposits can be mined and transported from the Izok Lake and High Lake areas, hundreds of kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk.

The review board screening decision was submitted to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada on Dec. 14.

Now, ministers from AANDC, DFO, Transport Canada and Natural Resources Canada are to decide whether to accept the report or order a review based on the options available under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, according to review board executive director Ryan Barry, in an e-mail to News/North.

The ministers can decide to order a federal panel review, a Nunavut Impact Review Board panel review, send MMG back to the drawing board, or reject the Nunavut Impact Review Board report.

"A federal environmental assessment panel follows essentially the same process for a review as the NIRB does. However, as it has not been done in Nunavut to date, it remains to be seen how similar it would be in practice," stated Barry in an e-mail to News/North.

The screening decision report states the review board received 410 responses from individuals and 21 responses from organizations, with various suggestions.

The departments currently charged with making the decision were among the comment submitters.

AANDC, DFO, and NRC recommended a review be required in each of their comments but did not specify if it should be under a federal panel or Nunavut Impact Review Board panel.

Transport Canada noted the "proposed project may cause significant adverse effects to the ecosystem encompassing water bodies or watercourse crossing and could arouse significant public concern," but did not recommend a review outright.

One of the common concerns of aboriginal, environmental groups, and government is an all-weather road route which currently is proposed to cut through calving grounds for the Bathurst caribou herd.

Some groups are requesting the route be changed to avoid the area altogether.

Kathleen Kawecki, communications advisor for MMG, said the project is in its very early stages and that nothing in the submitted proposal is final.

MMG Inc. is an Australian-based metal mining company with Canadian headquarters in Vancouver.

The company is owned by Minmetals Resources Ltd., which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and has majority shareholders located in Beijing, China.

Fact file

Choices available to the federal government

After receiving the review board's recommendation, the federal government can choose one of the following:

1. Refer the project to a federal panel for a review under Nunavut Land Claim Agreement Article 12, Part 6, colloquially referred to as a "Part 6 review."

2. Refer the project to the Nunavut Impact Review Board for a review under Nunavut Land Claim Agreement Article 12 Part 5, colloquially referred to as a "Part 5 review."

3. Decide the proposal is not in the national or regional interest and inform MMG that the project should be abandoned or modified and resubmitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board for screening.

Source: Nunavut Impact Review Board

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