Senator Dennis Patterson
Honourable Senators, today I want to speak about two Nunavut mines which truly demonstrate that mining is a win – win for Nunavut.
I am referring to Agnico Eagle’s $800M Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake in the Kivalliq region which has been in production since 2010 and ArcelorMittal’s Baffinland iron ore mine on the northern tip of Baffin Island which has just recently gone into production. Eventually up to $4B will be spent on this project.
Let’s start with Nunavut’s regulatory agencies, like the Nunavut Impact Review Board, or NIRB, which have demonstrated that they can review project proposals in a fair and timely manner, sensitive to the challenges facing mining project proponents while recognizing concerns of local residents who want to ensure that they receive benefits from mining development and their environment is protected
Next, what are the benefits for Inuit of these two mining ventures? While Baffinland is just assembling its labour force, 268 Inuit or 35% of Meadowbank’s workers are currently employed at the mine, representing an annual payroll of $19M. Nunavut businesses, who also have Inuit employees, benefit from providing goods and services to both mines.
And that is not all. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association, representing Inuit land claim beneficiaries from Baffin Island, recently reported that it received $20M in revenues for its Baffinland Impact Benefit Agreement Fund.
It gets better. Agnico Eagle recently announced that it will expand exploration next year at a promising new gold property named “Amaruq,” located about 50 kilometers northwest of its Meadowbank gold mine on land that is 100 per cent Inuit-owned with rights to subsurface resources. Meadowbank accounted for 30% of Nunavut’s GDP in 2012.
Also on Agnico Eagle’s Nunavut inventory is the Meliadine gold project, 24 kilometers west of Rankin Inlet. Once in operation, Meliadine will employ about 700 people. NIRB recently recommended that the Meliadine project be approved. The cost of constructing a Meliadine mine is estimated between $1.2 – $1.5B.
It is too early to accurately project the astounding impact which the operation of Baffinland and the eventual operation of Meliadine will have on Nunavut’s GDP; however, it is noteworthy that in 2013, Nunavut’s real GDP increased by 10.5%, the highest in Canada.
In its 2014 economic outlook for Nunavut, the Conference Board of Canada forecast that real GDP growth in 2015 is forecast to soar to 9.5%.
And for the Government of Nunavut, which also expects to receive significant direct and indirect revenues from mining in the coming years, I am proud to report that our federal Government recently announced that formal negotiations will begin on the devolution of land and resource management jurisdiction.
I look forward to providing Hon. Senators more updates in the future on the remarkable contribution mining is making to Nunavut’s future.