by Greg Klein | October 8, 2014
The newest of only two operating mines in Nunavut brought the Qikiqtani Inuit Association $20 million in benefits last year, the Nunatsiaq News reported October 8. The money came from the Mary River Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp, owner of the Mary River iron ore mine.
QIA draft financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31 also noted “$2.57 million in unspecified land leases and royalties,” the News added. That helped the organization post an $18.7-million surplus.
Yet Mary Hill didn’t begin production until September 8. The company has been extracting and trucking ore from the open pit to a northern Baffin Island port still under construction, with the goal of shipping during next year’s open water season.
With ore grades of 67%, no processing is required before shipping, Baffinland states. While operating a drastically scaled-down version of its original mine plan, the company intends to set initial guidance to 3.5 million tonnes of ore per year. Baffinland has stated it wants a price recovery before instituting its original plan, which was considered the Arctic’s most ambitious mining project. Iron ore plunged 41% this year, according to Bloomberg.
The QIA represents over 14,000 Inuit scattered over several isolated communities in Canada’s eastern Arctic. Nunavut’s total population comes to 36,408.
In an interview posted by London’s Daily Mail on October 8, Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna told Reuters the territory needs control over its resources, from which the government receives no royalties.
“We are in desperate need of more public housing for our people,” Taptuna was quoted. He also pointed to health and education services as under-funded priorities.
Talks have begun with Ottawa on devolving powers from federal to territorial jurisdiction, which would give Nunavut control over its resources, Reuters added.