Archaeological Impact Assessment for Areas Associated with the Proposed Lynx and Jay-Cardinal Projects

Julie Ross (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2013-012)

During September of 2013, Golder Associates Ltd. conducted an Archaeological Impact Assessment under Northwest Territories Permit 2013-012 on behalf Dominion Diamond Resources Corporation (Dominion), Lac du Sauvage.  The project is located approximately 250 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, southeast of the existing Ekati Mine.  The project regional study area encompasses approximately 2,015 square kilometres between 64°01’36”N to 64°28’31”N and 109°57’36”W to 110°47’31”W.  The closest communities to the project area are the Tłı̨chǫ community of Wekweètì and the historic Inuit outpost of Pellatt Lake.

The objectives of the Archaeological Impact Assessment were as follows:

  • Conduct an overflight of the proposed Lynx and Jay-Cardinal Project areas;
  • to ground truth (conduct a survey on foot) of areas identified as having high archaeological potential; and
  • to revisit previously recorded archaeological sites which may be impacted by future development.

The field assessment was conducted by Julie Ross and Shannon Hayden of Golder Associated Ltd (Golder), Morris Martin of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and Alfred Whane of the Tłı̨chǫ government conducted the assessment over eight days in September 2013. Both of the local team members assisted with the field program and provided advice on the cultural significance of the landscape during the investigation. The field study also included low and slow helicopter overflights with some surveys on foot.

The helicopter and foot surveys confirmed that there is low archaeological site potential in the Lynx Project areas.  The Spur road connected with the Lynx Project was subject to a pedestrian reconnaissance; however, no archaeological sites were identified.  No further archaeological work is recommended within the defined areas.

The 2013 archaeological impact assessment associated with the Jay-Cardinal Project focused on revisiting previously recorded archaeological sites which may be impacted by the proposed infrastructure. The team completed a helicopter survey of the proposed impact areas in order to refine the archaeological potential assessment established in the Archaeological Overview Assessment. In addition, a foot survey was done of areas identified as having moderate to high archaeological potential that may be within the Jay-Cardinal Project’s primary impact area.  Each of the Jay-Cardinal pit infrastructure areas were assessed using helicopter surveying techniques to establish if the field assessment differed from the Archaeological Overview Assessment. A survey was conducted of 10 areas on foot; 18 previously recorded sites were revisited, and 6 previously unrecorded sites were recorded.  The previously unrecorded sites include a possible grave site, a circular feature of unknown function, 2 lithic scatter, an isolated find (image 2) and a hunting blind.

The infrastructure locations are not yet finalized; however based on current plans 10 sites are within 150 metres of proposed infrastructure some of which may require mitigation for the 2014 field season.  Golder continues to work with Dominion to avoid sites when possible and recommendations for mitigation will be provided to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre when firm project locations are determined.

(Edited by Morgan Moffitt, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)