Homegrown mine executive finds success

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One of Nunavut’s three operating mines just became a lot more local: Alex Buchan, born and raised in Nunavut, was promoted to vice president of TMAC Resources Inc. on Jan. 10.

Previously manager of community relations for the company, Buchan is now vice president of corporate social responsibility, which has him overseeing community relations and the implementation of the company’s Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. He’ll also continue to be involved in the permitting process.

“I’m looking forward to expansion,” said Buchan. “Our role in Cambridge Bay is to initiate some strategic initiatives that will support pre-employment training.”

He said the company has so far been able to use the regional labour force in place, with existing skills from previous projects such as Lupin.

Nunavut’s Alex Buchan is now vice president of corporate social responsibility for TMAC Resources Inc., which operates a gold mine 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay. Photo courtesy of Alex Buchan.
Nunavut’s Alex Buchan is now vice president of corporate social responsibility for TMAC Resources Inc., which operates a gold mine 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay. Photo courtesy of Alex Buchan.

As the company’s Hope Bay project — which poured its first gold at the Doris North mine in 2017 — grows, and as the company looks to continue operating decades into the future, Buchan said TMAC needs to work with various levels of government to get young people into the trades that will get them in the door.

“Maybe it gives me an advantage in looking at this that I personally know a lot of the people that are interested in working at Hope Bay and, and I know generally the sorts of skills and the job experience that people have,” said Buchan.

Buchan’s been working on the Hope Bay project for 13 years, working for previous owners Miramar Mining Corp. and Newmont Mining before TMAC took over in 2013.

TMAC president and CEO Jason Neal said it was a “good call” to have Buchan join the company’s executive.

“He makes a very significant impact in our company,” said Neal. “…He’s doing really, really great things.”

He said he expects a lot more Nunavummiut to be involved at the executive level of the industry as it grows in the territory.

“It’s just a matter of time,” said Buchan.

“Mining, in the future, is pretty well going to be the major private enterprise in Nunavut. We don’t have farming. We don’t have forestry. We’ve already approached the limits to how much economic development is possible through our fishery. So if it isn’t government, it’s going to be mining.”

Buchan said one of the territory’s great advantages is the youth of its population. As of the 2016 federal census, half of the territory’s population was under the age of 25.

“I’ve got no doubt that, over the years, the young people will see our industry emerge and see that if they want to make a choice to go to private industry, then going into mining and progressing with a mining company is the way to go.”