by Greg Klein | July 31, 2015
With a Canadian federal election call anticipated any day now, cynics are calling the Conservative government spending announcements “Christmas in July.” But one potential miner welcomes the plan to build a deep water port in the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit. Following the July 30 announcement by Nunavut MP and Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD noted the Baffin Island facility would “dramatically” improve efficiency and costs for its flagship Chidliak project, 120 kilometres north. The company has a preliminary economic assessment planned for next year.
While Baffin Island’s only operating mine already has its own port, most Nunavut projects are on the mainland. Baffinland Iron Mines trucks iron ore from its Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, 100 kilometres away. The Nunavut Impact Review Board is currently reviewing Baffinland’s application to expand shipping from three summer months to 10 months a year.
As is the case for most of the territory’s exploration and development projects, Nunavut’s other mine sits on the mainland. Agnico Eagle’s (TSX:AEM) largest gold producer, Meadowbank, links to the hamlet of Baker Lake via an all-weather, 110-kilometre road. The mine “depends on the annual, warm-weather sealift by barge from Hudson Bay to Baker Lake for transportation of bulk supplies and heavy equipment,” the company states.
The feds offer to pay 75% of the Iqaluit port’s estimated $84.9-million price tag. The deal depends on the territorial government funding the rest, environmental approvals and, judging by her remarks, Aglukkaq’s re-election.
“What I can say is that if I’m re-elected, I’m going to make sure that the funding remains here,” the CBC quoted her. “And I’ve committed to it, I’ve announced it today, and that it is my commitment to delivering on this project.”