Step 3: Phase 2 - Field Studies and Engagement 

In 2014, the NWMO began working with communities in this area to plan field studies and engagement as part of Preliminary Assessment (Step 3: Phase 2). Through fieldwork, more detailed studies and broadened engagement, Phase 2 assessments expand upon work completed in Phase 1.

Work in this phase begins with initial studies such as geophysical and environmental surveys to further assess potential suitability. Studies to further assess potential to foster well-being in the area continue.

Based on findings from these initial surveys, we may conclude studies in areas with lower potential to meet technical and community well-being requirements.

We will then work with communities in areas that continue in the process to plan more intensive field studies.

As studies are completed, we will publish the details here.

Planning Initial Borehole Drilling and Testing

The focus of early geoscientific studies is to determine if there are rock formations in the area that have the potential to satisfy our safety requirements for a deep geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Geoscientific studies conducted to date have involved desktop studies, airborne geophysical surveys, observing general geological features, and detailed geological mapping. The next site evaluation activity in the area involves drilling a small number of initial boreholes in potential repository locations. Depending on findings, additional borehole drilling and testing in one or more locations may be warranted.

Selecting locations for initial boreholes provides an opportunity for the NWMO, the interested community, and First Nation and Métis communities in the area to work together to consider where the project might best fit. Once a borehole location is identified, the NWMO must submit an application to the provincial government for permission to drill. Assembling a permission application is one activity among many designed to help advance the NWMO’s understanding of the perspectives of people in the area about the project. Engagement and dialogue continue. 

Ultimately, the preferred site will need to meet robust technical requirements focused on safety. The implementation of the project must also foster the well-being of the area as defined by people who live there, and will need to be supported by strong partnerships. The project can only proceed with the involvement of the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, and surrounding communities.

Through discussion with people in the area about a number of potentially geologically suitable areas, the NWMO has identified an initial borehole location. It is located in a rock formation known as the Revell Batholith.

Exploring Partnerships

The NWMO and communities are beginning more detailed discussions on how to advance learning and build the sustainable partnerships that would be required to support the implementation of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

The NWMO has outlined a multi-step road map to guide these partnership discussions, which focuses on exploring potential to advance the project in partnership with people in the area, as well as puts in place a framework to implement the project if a preferred site were identified in the area.

Road map to partnership (2017-2022)

Image shows partnership steps written out in text. Ignace has identified values and principles to guide future discussions with the NWMO to explore partnership and to consider the project in more detail. These values and principles, and the engagement activities that led to their development, are described in the summary report (Guiding principles for exploring partnership – Community conversations update) below.

Project Economics: Employment

To help understand the project's economic effects in potential siting areas, we have developed models that provide initial estimates. By working together to implement the project, we can optimize and direct economic benefits to meet community expectations and needs.

We have committed to implementing the project in a way that fosters well-being as defined by the people who live in the area. We continue to learn from communities about the many dimensions of well-being that are important to them. Economics is just one aspect.

If the project proceeds in the area, it will create many jobs in and around Ignace, including communities such as Dryden, Thunder Bay, and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation. Given the project's extended time frame, there would be many opportunities for people living in the area. New families would be attracted to the area and would also contribute to area communities.

The project will create employment that includes:

  • Direct Jobs: Jobs at or near the repository site, including skilled and semi-skilled employment during construction and operations

  • Indirect Jobs: Jobs created by suppliers and contractors working on the project, such as food catering, accommodation, transportation, and equipment

  • Induced Jobs: Jobs created in retail and professional services by expenditures of people employed in direct and indirect jobs

Infographic showing number of direct, indirect and induced jobs in the economic region and Ignace and area by project phase.

Initial Field Studies

Initial field studies conducted in the Ignace area so far include airborne geophysical surveys and observing general geological features.

Airborne surveys are used to gather additional geological information about potential siting areas. They help us build a more detailed understanding of bedrock geology both at the surface and deep underground.

Visually observing general geological features helps build knowledge about the rock. We also use the observations to inform more detailed studies in the future.