Harper's cabinet mulls massive Chinese resource project in Arctic10
"...Some time in the new year, four federal ministers are to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal. It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.
"This is going to be the biggest issue," said Sally Fox, a spokeswoman for proponent MMG Minerals, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Minmetals Resources Ltd.
It would be hard to exaggerate the proposal's scope. Centred at Izok Lake, about 260 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk, the project would stretch throughout a vast swath of western Nunavut.
Izok Lake would have five separate underground and open-pit mines producing lead, zinc and copper. Another site at High Lake, 300 kilometres to the northeast, would have another three mines.
MMG also wants a processing plant that could handle 6,000 tonnes of ore a day, tank farms for 35 million litres of diesel, two permanent camps totalling 1,000 beds, airstrips and a 350-kilometre all-weather road with 70 bridges that would stretch from Izok Lake to Grays Bay on the central Arctic coast....
"Both the Izok Lake mine site and the High Lake mine site, as well as the route of the Izok corridor all-weather road, occur either near to or on the Bathurst calving ground," wrote the government of the Northwest Territories.
"The proposed project may cause significant adverse effects on the ecosystem and wildlife habitat," wrote Environment Canada.
"We are concerned that our hunting and harvesting rights will be in jeopardy if the project is allowed to proceed as is," added the Lutsel K'e Dene.
Many pointed out that the Bathurst herd has only recently stabilized after a 90 per cent drop in the 1980s to today's 32,000 animals. That drop was steep and sustained enough for aboriginal groups to stop hunting the herd and many are leery of anything that could impede its recovery...."10