The Giant Mine Oversight Board

The Giant Mine Oversight Board is a relatively new entity in the long and often tangled history of Giant Mine, so with our first public meeting coming up on Tuesday, May 16, it’s important to clarify exactly what the board is — and what it isn’t.

The GMOB is an independent group tasked with providing objective, high-level advice on the management of the future of the Giant Mine site.

The six members of the board were appointed by the six parties to the original Giant Mine Remediation Project Environmental Agreement, signed on June 9, 2015: the Government of Canada, the Government of the NWT, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the North Slave Métis Alliance, Alternatives North, and the City of Yellowknife. Board members were chosen for the ability to provide a wide range of expertise and experience in projects similar to the Giant Mine Remediation Project, and the issues that surround it.

The Giant Mine Oversight Board is made up of appointees from the six parties

Once appointed, board members are completely autonomous. Our objective is to ensure that remediation of the Giant Mine site is carried out in a manner that is environmentally sound, socially responsible, and culturally appropriate. Our mandate is to take the highest possible overview of the many moving parts involved in dealing with the future of the mine site.

One misconception that needs to be clarified:  we are not the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team. They are an entirely separate entity, made up of employees of the federal and territorial governments, responsible for planning and then executing the actual physical remediation of the mine site.

You can find out more about the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team here.

The Giant Mine Oversight Board has four main audiences for its recommendations and communications, including the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team

Part of our mandate is to offer the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team advice and recommendations, to ensure that it stays on schedule, is transparent in its actions, operates with full public confidence, and has access to the latest technical knowledge.

However, the Remediation Project Team is just one of several groups that GMOB provides recommendations to: we may also provide independent advice to the various levels of government involved, to the various boards and regulatory groups, and to  the public. Examples of those recommendations can be found here, in our Establishment Report for the period from July 2015 to December 2016 (PDF). Note that GMOB is not a regulatory agency and so our recommendations are not enforceable.

The Future vs. the Past

The long-term effects of Giant Mine on the communities around it are still being determined, and many residents are understandably still looking for answers. But it is important to be aware that the Giant Mine Oversight Board is a future-focused organization, with a mandate to oversee remediation efforts going forward and to find solutions to the mine’s underground arsenic legacy.

The board’s mission is wide in scope, but it has limits: to independently monitor, promote, advise and broadly advocate for the responsible management of the remediation of the Giant Mine site, and manage a research program to seek a permanent solution to the arsenic trioxide stored underground at the site. So while it’s important to be concerned about the past history of Giant Mine, and about subjects like off-site contamination, it’s also important to realize that resolution of these issues are not part of the Giant Mine Oversight Board’s mandate. These are key issues of public interest, but  while GMOB might not be the venue through which the past concerns can be resolved, we are a vehicle through which the past concerns can be noted and passed to the appropriate agencies who can address these issues.

This distinction needs to be made clear, because these issues do need to be discussed and dealt with, in a venue that will lead to meaningful action.

Where We Are Now

We, and all the other parties involved, are currently in the planning stage of the remediation process. Our major task at this point is to ensure that the Giant Mine Remediation Team and everyone else involved is ready for actual remediation of the mine site to begin in 2021, after the issuance of the necessary regulatory permits to the Project.

Full remediation of the site is currently planned to start in 2021

One of our major roles is to track progress as we head towards 2021, and to make sure that all involved parties are on the path to make this schedule work.

We hope to see you at our public meeting, at 7 pm on Tuesday, May 16 at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre.

If you have any further questions, please visit us online at gmob.ca, or drop by our office in downtown Yellowknife at 5014-50th Avenue.

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