Hunters and trappers organizations in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut are voicing their concerns about a proposed mining project.
Chinese-controlled Minerals and Metals Group (MMG) wants to build a zinc mine at Izok Lake, a copper mine at High Lake and an all-weather road connecting the two.
Willie Aglukkaq, the manager for the Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers Association, is paying close attention to how those possible mines will impact the McClintock channel.
The government has already put a moratorium on polar bear hunting there.
“Now we're afraid with all the ships going through there, they'll definitely be impacted because of the shipping route. The board is afraid the polar bears are just going to move away to other areas,” said Aglukkaq.
Aglukkaq said the association is also concerned about chemicals from any mining activity leeching into nearby streams and rivers.
Heidi Klein, with MMG, said she heard the community’s concerns.
“We know we’ll have to certainly go back and get more from the communities as time goes on,” she said.
The company has already made some early promises. It has ensured that the all-weather road won’t affect the migratory route of caribou – the road will be closed during calving season.
Despite his concerns, Aglukkaq said he is excited about the prospect of more jobs and money going into the area.
MMG has been consulting with various communities the past couple of weeks. It's in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, this week.
The company plans to put a proposal before the Nunavut Impact Review Board this June.