Agency Communications Plan
As part of our mandate, the Agency stores, distributes and makes information about environmental management at the Ekati mine available to Aboriginal Peoples and the general public. We also pass on people’s questions and concerns about the mine to BHPB and the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories.
In an effort to improve our communications with Aboriginal Peoples and the general public, the Agency has developed a Communications Plan and Background Paper. The Communications Plan is based on input from our Society Members and external reviews conducted in 2000 and 2009. It summarizes our current communications initiatives and key messages, defines our communications objectives and outcomes, and looks at our options for improving our communication tools. The Plan helps us to evaluate the effectiveness of our communications, respond to suggestions, and focus on the right priorities.
Report on Revegetation Sustainability Criteria
The Agency commissioned David Polster (Polster Environmental Services, Duncan, BC) to prepare Towards Revegetation Sustainability Criteria for Northern Mine Closure. The report, prepared in March 2011, was intended to better inform the Agency’s directors and staff about how to begin to measure the sustainability of revegetation as part of mine closure planning.
Environmental Impact Report Discussion Paper
The Environmental Agreement requires BHPB to produce an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) every three years. The purpose is to report on the longer term effects of the Ekati Diamond Mine and the results of the environmental monitoring programs, to compare the actual environmental performance of the mine against what was predicted in the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement, and to evaluate how BHPB’s adaptive environmental management has performed to the date of each report. The Agency views the EIRs as a very important management tool for the Ekati Mine, where periodic review and evaluation of trends, impacts, mitigation and management responses can be discussed and improved.
As described in our 2009-10 annual report, the Agency concluded that the 2009 EIR was unsatisfactory, resulting in a Minister’s Report under the Environmental Agreement. Most of our concerns were addressed in BHPB’s subsequent EIR Close-Out Report and Technical Addendum, but we committed to prepare a discussion paper and recommended that BHPB host a pre-2012 EIR workshop. In January 2011, the Agency released a discussion paper entitled Building Consensus: Towards a Shared Understanding of the Ekati Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
We hope that our discussion paper will help build a common understanding on the process and substance of future EIRs, and in particular guide the work for the 2012 EIR.
Independent External Reviews
Periodically, the Agency contracts independent external reviews of the Agency’s performance in meeting our mandate. These reviews have highlighted the Agency’s strengths, particularly with regard to technical reviews and submissions, and offered suggestions on ways to improve our consultation and communications efforts.
SENES Consultants produced its Final Report: External Review of the Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency with recommendations in March 2009. The Macleod Institute produced its Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency Evaluation Report in December 2000.