Central Arctic port proposal approved

The proposed road would cut into the Bathurst caribou herd’s calving ground The proposed road would cut into the Bathurst caribou herd’s calving ground

Canada’s largest and northernmost territory has taken initial steps towards creating the Central Arctic’s first deep-water port at the mid-point of the Northwest Passage.

The government of Nunavut, located in the north of the country, opposite Greenland, announced that the Nunavut Impact Review Board has formally accepted the Grays Bay Road and Port project proposal, a decision that will allow for public screening of the project.

The proposal lays out plans for construction of a port at Grays Bay, as well as the building of a 233 kilometre road from the port to Jericho Station establishing the first overland connection between Canada and a port located on the Northwest Passage.

“We are beginning to shape the potential development of Nunavut’s economic future with nation-building infrastructure,” Monica Ell-Kanayuk, the Minister of Economic Development and Transportation for the territory, said in a statement.

Ms Ell-Kanayuk added that screening will allow all stakeholders an opportunity to understand the project’s details.

The proposed venture aims to improve international market access for the territory’s gold, copper and diamond mines and, according to the project overview.

Companies active near the proposed project area include MMG, which is currently involved in the development of a zinc and copper mine near Izok; TMAC Resources Inc, which is working on a gold mine at Hope Bay; and Tundra Copper, which is searching for copper near the location of the proposed port.

The process of approval of the venture has received significant backing from local municipalities as well as the estimated 6,000 members of the Kitikmeot Inuit community, Paul Emingak, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s executive director, said.

However, conservation organisation World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) is calling for the project to face a full environmental review, especially because the proposed road would cut into the Bathurst caribou herd’s calving ground.

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