Impact assessment

Information on the impact assessment process required under the Nunavut Agreement.

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Impact assessment flowchart
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Submit your project proposal to the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC)

NPC reviews project proposal for conformity and submits to Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB)

NIRB conducts completeness check on your proposal

NIRB issues Notice of Screening to the public, intervenors and regulators, and any other interested groups

NIRB reviews comments and completes technical assessment of your project proposal

NIRB submits its Screening Decision Report to the Minister:

  1. Your project should be modified or abandoned based on its anticipated impacts
  2. A Part 5 or Part 6 Technical Review of your project proposal is required
    1. NIRB issues guidelines for your Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
    2. You complete and submit your Draft EIS to NIRB, which reviews it for conformity
    3. NIRB holds public Technical Review of your Draft EIS and sets requirements for your Final EIS
    4. NIRB holds Pre-Hearing Conference on your Draft EIS with you as the proponent, regulators and intervenors, and the public
    5. You submit your Final EIS to NIRB
    6. NIRB holds public Technical Review and Community Round Table meetings on your final EIS
    7. NIRB holds public Final Hearing
    8. NIRB submits its Final Report to the responsible Minister, recommending that your project proceed or not proceed
    9. Minister approves or rejects NIRB recommendation:
      •   Minister rejects 'not proceed' NIRB recommendation on grounds of national interest
        • Final Report returned to NIRB for creation of Terms and Conditions
      •   Minister rejects 'proceed' NIRB recommendation on grounds of regional or national interest
        • Project does not proceed
      •   Minister approves 'not proceed' NIRB recommendation
        • Project does not proceed
      •   Minister approves 'proceed' NIRB recommendation
        • NIRB issues project certificate within 30 days
          •   Go to Phase 3: Production
  3. A Part 5 or Part 6 Technical Review of your proposal is not required
    1. NIRB provides Terms and Conditions to other regulators for licences and permits
    2. Go to Phase 2: Advanced exploration

Assessment and mitigation of environmental and socio-economic impacts is the most important aspect of responsible resource management. It is an anticipatory, systematic process that is used to assess environmental, health, and socio-economic effects (both beneficial and adverse) that may be caused by the carrying out of proposed project activities.

Sustainable development in Canada is based on the efficient use of natural, social and economic resources. Under the Federal Sustainable Development Act of 2008, the Government of Canada operates on the principle of integrating environmental, economic and social factors in its decisions.

Impact assessment is an essential planning and decision-making tool for authorities issuing permits or licences, in order to advance the principles of sustainable development while enhancing economic development.

Proposed mines in the Nunavut Settlement Area are subject to an impact assessment by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) under the Nunavut Agreement (formerly the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement) and the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act (NuPPAA). Detailed information about the NIRB process and NuPPAA are available on NIRB's website.

For further information on CIRNAC's participation as an intervenor in the impact assessment process, contact:

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Nunavut Regional Office

Resource Management Directorate

Director, Resource Management
Phone: 867-975-4546
Fax: 867-975-4286

Manager, Water Resources
Phone: 867-975-4550
Fax: 867-975-4560

Manager, Impact Assessment
Phone: 867-975-4549
Fax: 867-975-4560

The Nunavut Agreement and NuPPAA

Under both the NA and NuPPAA, the impact assessment process begins when the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) receives a project proposal from your company, as the proponent. Please see the land use planning section for more information on the NPC process.

After making its conformity determination, NPC submits project proposals that are in conformity with land use plans, and not exempt from further screening, to NIRB.


When NIRB receives your project proposal from NPC, it will contact you in writing to acknowledge receipt and will assign the project a file number for all related documentation.

NIRB then distributes a public Notice of Screening, inviting any party that has information relevant to the proposal to submit comments to NIRB. At the end of this comment period, which typically lasts 3 weeks, NIRB technical staff screen your project proposal and any public comments to determine whether an in-depth impact assessment is warranted.

This initial screening considers whether your project may cause adverse ecosystemic and/or socio-economic impacts, or significant public concern, in the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA). It is typically completed in 45 days. Once completed, NIRB submits its Screening Decision Report to the Minister responsible for authorizing the project.

After the initial screening, NIRB will make one of the following Screening Decisions:

  1. A Part 5 or Part 6 review is not required. Instead, NIRB approves your project and recommends terms and conditions to be attached to any authorizations issued for the project by other regulatory authorities.
  2. A Part 5 and NuPPAA Sections 99-114, or a Part 6 and NuPPAA Sections 118-133 review through NIRB or a federal Environmental Assessment Panel, is required.
  3. Your project proposal should be modified or abandoned, based on the project's anticipated ecosystemic or socioeconomic impacts.

The responsible Minister may decide to refer your project for further review, even if NIRB's Screening Decision Report indicates that a review is not required. In this case NIRB's recommendations may be incorporated in the terms and conditions of the Project Certificate, if one is issued.

Either NIRB or the Minister may identify specific issues and concerns to be considered in a Part 5 or Part 6 review.

Under sections 99-114 of NuPPAA, a Part 6 review of a project in Nunavut may be conducted by a Federal Environment Assessment Review Panel, appointed by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. However, to date, all Part 6 reviews in the territory have been conducted solely by NIRB, and therefore this guide focuses on the NIRB process.

The NIRB review process

If a Part 5 or Part 6 review is determined by NIRB to be required, the Minister will formally refer the project proposal for review by NIRB. This review process takes place in 3 phases. Based on the legislated timelines for decisions and deadlines, it may take up to 400 days for the review to be completed.

Phase 1

The review process begins with a scoping exercise undertaken by NIRB to identify possible ecological or socioeconomic impacts of the project, and the development of guidelines for preparation and submission of your Draft Impact Statement (DIS).

NIRB may also determine that your project proposal is sufficiently detailed to be accepted as the DIS for your project. If so, you will not have to prepare a separate DIS.

Phase 2

NIRB will review your completed DIS to ensure it conforms to the guidelines which have been provided to you. If it is not in conformity, it will be returned to you for revisions. Once your DIS is accepted by NIRB, the technical review process begins.

NIRB provides a public notice of the review, and requests authorizing agencies and intervenors, including government, regulators and community organizations, to submit information requests to be addressed by you as the proponent. These parties will also have the opportunity to provide technical comments on the document.

The goal of this review, and of the Technical Meeting that concludes the review period, is to ensure that identified issues and concerns are addressed in your Final Impact Statement (FIS).

NIRB then holds a Community Roundtable and Pre-Hearing Conference, at which the logistics of the Final Hearing are determined, any issues which you as the proponent must address are identified, and the participants in and the process for the review of your project's FIS are set out.

Phase 3

The process for the Final Impact Statement (FIS) follows the same steps as the process for the DIS; NIRB reviews and accepts the FIS, conducts a Technical Review, and hosts a Public Hearing and Community Roundtable. NIRB will issue its Final Report on your project to the responsible Minister(s) within 45 days of the end of the Public Hearing, recommending that your project proceed or that it not proceed.

The Minister will accept and review NIRB's report, or may request that NIRB conduct an additional review or hearings on your project and submit an amended Final Report. After a Final Report is accepted, the Minister then has up to 150 days to make a decision on your project.

If NIRB has determined that your project should proceed, the Minister will decide to either:

  1. Accept NIRB's recommendation that your project should proceed with the recommended terms and conditions.
  2. Reject NIRB's recommendation on the grounds of regional or national interest.
  3. Accept NIRB's recommendation on your project, but require modifications to the terms and conditions.

However, if NIRB has determined that your project should not proceed, the Minister may either:

  1. Accept NIRB's recommendation that your project not proceed.
  2. Reject NIRB's recommendation against the project and allow it to proceed on the grounds of regional or national interest.

If a recommendation to proceed is accepted by the Minister, NIRB will host a Project Certificate workshop for any remaining clarifications required and for discussion of how the project's specific terms and conditions will be implemented. Following this workshop, NIRB will prepare a draft project certificate, which is finalized within 30 days of the Minister's decision.

You as the proponent are responsible for complying with all the items in the terms and conditions of your project certificate, including monitoring, reporting, and updated modelling of project impacts.

Amendments to an existing certificate are possible in the following circumstances:

  1. The terms and conditions originally set out in your project certificate are not achieving their intended purpose.
  2. There have been significant changes in the circumstances of your project, and they no longer correspond with the original terms and conditions in the project certificate.
  3. Technological developments which allow more efficient methods of operation, monitoring, or remediation have occurred.

For each of these cases, NIRB will consider whether the requested amendments are covered under the original scope of your project. If not, the proposed amendments will be subject to the same review process as the original project proposal.

NIRB will then provide a report on the amendment to the responsible Minister, who has the same options for decision as the original review process, and may take up to 180 days to decide on the amendment.

Monitoring programs

Monitoring programs measure the impacts of your project and allow for assessment of the accuracy of your project's impact statements and take place before, during, and after mining. They provide the information base necessary to determine and enforce compliance with the terms and conditions associated with your project's land and resource use approvals. You are required to submit periodic progress reports on project operations, including the implementation of any mitigation measures and their impacts, to various regulators, including NIRB and the relevant federal departments.

Transboundary impacts and joint reviews

When a project may have impacts outside of Nunavut's territorial boundary, the Impact Assessment Act, the Nunavut Agreement, and NuPPAA have provisions which allow the responsible Minister(s) to consider transboundary impacts and conduct joint reviews with other provinces, territories or countries.

Regional socioeconomic monitoring committees

The Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, and Qikiqtani regions each have a Socio-economic Monitoring Committee (SEMC). The primary objective of these committees is to promote the wellbeing of existing and future residents and communities of the NSA, consistent with NIRB's primary objectives specified under Section 12.2.5 of the Nunavut Agreement and Section 23 (1)(a) of NuPPAA.

This objective is achieved through socio-economic monitoring programs which are required under the terms and conditions of your project certificate. SEMCs work to construct a collaborative monitoring framework that includes socio-economic priorities of projects, communities, and regions as a whole, through the review of relevant monitoring data, project management plans and reports, and potential project impacts.

These committees include representatives of the following organizations, from which the Chair is selected:

Additional representatives, including project proponents or Designated Inuit Organization representatives, may be required by the terms and conditions of a Project Certificate.

If you are a proponent with a project in advanced exploration or in advanced stages of the impact assessment process, you are encouraged to participate in the committees.

Further information on Nunavut's Socio-economic Monitoring Committees is available from the Government of Nunavut.

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