talk
Environmental Monitoring and Research

Long-Term Monitoring Finds No Effect of an Arctic Mine on Migratory Birds

Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 14:40 to 14:59 Theatre 3

Author(s)

L. Bol (Presenting)
ERM

O. Curran
TMAC Resources Inc.

L. Ainsworth
ERM

A. Buchan
TMAC Resources Inc.

G. Sharam
ERM

The Hope Bay Project, an underground gold mine, is located on the Arctic coast of Nunavut, approximately 100 km southwest of the township of Cambridge Bay and 50 km east of Bathurst Inlet. We analyzed long-term monitoring data for upland breeding birds, waterfowl and raptors collected from 2004 – 2017 at the Hope Bay Project to determine if the construction and operation of the mine has affected local bird populations. The long-term dataset was collected as part of the Project compliance program and based on a before-after, control-influenced (BACI) design. Monitoring data was grouped into periods with and without project activity during four time periods: 1) prior to construction (2004-2006), 2) during construction (2007-2012), 3) a period of care and maintenance (2013-2014), and 4) continued construction and operations (2015-2017). Upland birds were monitored used point counts and the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM) protocols. Waterfowl were monitored using aerial transects and ground based surveys during nesting. Raptors were monitored using nest surveys to determine occupancy and productivity. Generalized additive mixed models (GAMM) were used to explore changes in bird species relative abundance and Shannon diversity indices. Results for upland birds indicated: 1) no effect on bird density beyond a localized area (300-1,000 m), 2) a non-significant effect on bird diversity. Results for waterfowl indicated: 3) no effect on the density of birds with distance from the project using several distance thresholds (300 m, 500 m, 1,000 m and 1,800 m). Results for raptors indicated: 4) no effect on raptor occupancy or breeding success using a continuous analysis, 5) a small effect on breeding using a categorical value of 1,500 m to separate test from control nests. These results indicate that the effects of mining activity on birds is either non-existent, or localized to the immediate project area.