by Greg Klein | November 25, 2016
Having poured about $23 million into Nunavut so far, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD plans to spend another $15.5 million to $17 million next year on its Chidliak project, the Nunatsiaq News reported November 25. Most of the $23 million went to Iqaluit, home to an estimated 7,590 people. “It will cost between $50 and $75 million to go from here to where we need to get to,” the journal quoted president/CEO Tom Peregoodoff.
The Baffin Island project reached PEA in July, calling for a capex of $434.9 million, an amount relatively modest for an isolated operation but considerable for a territory of about 37,082 people. The company hopes to reach feasibility by H2 2019, complete permitting by the end of that year and begin construction in H2 2019. Should hopes, financing and feasibility fall into place, Peregrine might be digging diamonds by 2021.
Brothers Robert and Eric Friedland own about 25% and 21% of the company respectively.
New infrastructure would include an all-season road to Iqaluit, about 120 kilometres southwest. The government of Nunavut hopes to have an $85-million deep sea port built there by 2020.
The territory currently has two other mines in production, Agnico Eagle’s (TSX:AEM) Meadowbank gold mine about 300 kilometres west of Hudson Bay and Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River iron ore operation roughly 800 kilometres north of Chidliak. Baffinland trucks ore to its own port, 100 kilometres north of the mine.
Peregoodoff said the company has yet to negotiate an Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement, but stated such a deal would probably resemble agreements signed with Northwest Territories diamond producers, the News added.
In October the paper reported Nunavut’s 14,000-member Qikiqtani Inuit Association received more than $24 million over two years from Mary River.
Should Peregrine meet its goal, Chidliak wouldn’t be Nunavut’s first diamond operation. Just across the border from the NWT’s Lac de Gras camp, Nunavut’s Jericho mine produced gems between 2006 and 2008. Shear Minerals gave up on its restart attempt in 2012, leaving taxpayers with a large part of an estimated $10.5-million clean-up bill.
Yet diamond mining transformed the NWT economy. According to figures supplied by the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, between 1996 and 2015 the industry provided over 50,000 person-years of employment, 49% northern and 24% aboriginal. By far the territory’s largest private sector industry, diamond mining created 29% of the NWT’s GDP in 2014. Direct and indirect benefits bring the number up to 40%, according to chamber data.