Giant Mine Environmental Agreement
The Giant Mine Remediation Project (Project) Environmental Assessment (EA) concluded in August 2014 when the federal Responsible Minister under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, writing on behalf of all Responsible Ministers (including GNWT), agreed to measures contained in the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board’s (Board) Report of Environmental Assessment and Reasons for Decision (Report).
One of the measures in the Report required Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the GNWT as co-proponents to commence the negotiation of a legally binding Environmental Agreement to establish an independent Oversight Body for the Project. Parties to the negotiations identified in the measure included: Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), City of Yellowknife (City), Alternatives North (AN) and “other interested parties”. As the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA) were an “interested party” throughout the EA they were included in the negotiations.
Canada and the GNWT concluded negotiations of the Environmental Agreement with the City, YKDFN, NSMA and AN in April 2015. Leadership of all these Parties approved the proposed Agreement.
On June 17, 2015, the Government of Canada announced the signing of an Environmental Agreement for the Giant Mine Remediation Project. The Environmental Agreement is an important step toward the creation of an independent Oversight Body for the project, which was a key requirement of the 2014 Giant Mine Remediation Project Environmental Assessment. The negotiated Environmental Agreement:
- provides for establishment of an independent Oversight Body for the Project that will provide advice to INAC and the GNWT on a broad range of matters related to the Giant Mine Remediation Project--for example, reviewing annual reports, environmental plans and programs, regulatory filings
- defines the roles of the Co-proponents for the Project (GNWT and INAC) in relation to the Oversight Body as well as the roles of the Parties to the Agreement (YKDFN, City, NSMA, AN)
- provides for a research program to be managed by the Oversight Body leading to a permanent solution for dealing with arsenic at the Giant Mine site
- establishes a budget for the Oversight Body of $900,000 per year ($650,000 oversight, $250,000 research)
- provides for appointment of a Director, who will act in the public interest, to the Oversight Body by each Party
- requires twice annual meetings of the Parties to the Agreement to review progress and to engage on issues related to the implementation of the Agreement and the operations of the Oversight Body
- includes an annexed implementation protocol for setting up the Oversight Body in the 2015-2016 fiscal year to commence core oversight functions and to plan the research program which would become fully funded ($250,000/year) in 2019-2020
Planning for the implementation of the Environmental Agreement is already underway. The oversight body will be housed in Yellowknife and will include representation from each of the signatories to the agreement. It is expected that the body will be operational by April of 2016.