Government Commitments


More than 100 exploration sites cleaned up in Nunavik, KRG says

June 7, 2024

Kativik Regional Government releases report detailing efforts to clean up abandoned properties

This is a still from the documentary “Acting Together Cleaning Up Abandoned Mining Sites,” produced by Kativik Regional Government. The image depicts the remains of a site near Kangirsuk. (Photo credit of Kativik Regional Government) 

By  Cedric Gallant – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

NationTalk: Nunatsiaq News – After more than a decade of cleanup, 101 abandoned mineral exploration sites across Nunavik have been remediated, according to a report released this week by Kativik Regional Government.

Project co-ordinators Nancy Dea and Aglae Boucher-Telmosse presented a documentary Tuesday during the Nunavik Mining Workshop in Kuujjuaq, detailing the results of the Nunavik Abandoned Mineral Exploration Sites Rehabilitation Program.

The documentary, called Acting Together Cleaning Up Abandoned Mining Sites, takes viewers to a cleanup operation in Kangirsuk, showing the process of hoisting rusty metal parts away by helicopter. It also details the history of the project.

In 2001, KRG prepared an inventory of 193 potential cleanup sites in Nunavik. Of those, 90 were confirmed abandoned, including 18 determined to need major cleanup, 27 requiring intermediate cleanup, and 45 needing minor cleanup.

Over the years, many more sites were identified and added to the list.

Then Ammamak Jaaka, from Kangiqsujuaq, wanted a site near his community to be cleaned, according to a report released this week on the project, provided to Nunatsiaq News by KRG.

A 2006 CBC radio report followed Jaaka’s efforts, which increased awareness of the issue.

In 2007, KRG, Makivvik, the provincial natural resources ministry and a consortium of mining companies signed an official cleanup agreement.

Cleanup costs totalled an estimated $7 million.

The report said the project led to the “mitigation of numerous negative environmental liabilities associated with the mining sector in Nunavik.”

Tons of materials, some hazardous, were removed from the sites and recycled.

That includes 116 pieces of infrastructure, including buildings; 71 pieces of equipment, mainly engines; 548 propane tanks; 16 fuel tanks; more than 1,000 drill rods; and 101 batteries, plus some transformers and tires.

Much of the work involved collecting, crushing and recycling approximately 10,000 barrels that were found on the sites.

Cleaning up grease, fuel, motor oil, material from fire extinguishers, antifreeze, paint, acid, household cleaning products and solvents was also part of the job.

The abandoned site ranked as top priority was called PJ-1, located between Aupaluk and Tasiujaq. It was three square kilometres in size and was separated into nine areas. The site required multiple visits over the span of 10 years.

According to the report, 395,000 pounds of materials were shipped out just from that site alone.

While there is no plan to continue the project, the report points out its “ultimate legacy” is the sense of active guardianship it created in Nunavik.

The Nunavik Mining Workshop ran this week from Monday to Wednesday.