Baffinland IIBA, cannabis, gender and youth in mining, the economy – all are up for exploration at this year’s Nunavut Mining Symposium

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From rock science to the territorial economy, from getting youth interested to diversity in industry – there’s much on offer at the 2019 Nunavut Mining Symposium April 1 to 4.

The theme this year is Rocks, Roads and Resources

“There’s a little bit for everybody,” said Linda Ham, chair of the 2019 steering committee.

As a geologist, Ham tends to favour geology-themed panels and sessions, but those only take up a quarter of the programming, while the remaining three quarters deals with the rest of the mining sector.

She notes a few that might hold interest for the roughly 400 people who will attend.

“Baffinland (Iron Mines Corp.) and QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association) have a session talking about the IIBA (Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement) that they’ve just, just put together. That was undecided until last week – it will be interesting to hear, because both parties obviously think it’s good,” said Ham.

“And they will be taking questions and answers.”

Cannabis in the industry is also on the program.

Jay Rosenthal, of Business of Cannabis, will speak at a session called Cannabis at Work: How Legalization Impacts the Industry at the 2019 Nunavut Mining Symposium scheduled for Iqaluit April 1 to 4.
photo courtesy of Nunavut Mining Symposium

“With the recent legislation legalizing cannabis … It does have an impact on our industry. So that will be talking about how mines deal with it,” said Ham.

Jay Rosenthal, of Business of Cannabis, will lead this talk.

“From what I can tell there’s some concern out there that if you smoke up on a Saturday that by Monday you still might not be clear in your head to, let’s say, operate heavy equipment,” Ham said.

A panel discussion titled Education and the Mineral Industry is a part of a larger effort.

“We’re having youth delegates come in. That, the chamber (NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines) is putting on. They are trying to figure out how to get youth more interested in the mining industry. Certainly a lot of the elders, some who did work in the old mines, were on board. But I’d say the younger generation – 20s to 30s to 40s – don’t have that same relationship,” said Ham.

Last year’s all-female panel on gender diversity proved so popular, that’s being repeated as Inclusivity and Diversity in Mining – with two back-to-back sessions.

“We heard people enjoyed it, standing room only, basically,” said Ham.

Women from the Kitikmeot Corporation, DeBeers Canada, Nunavut Impact Review Board, Baffinland and Pauktuutit sharing their perspectives.

A not-to-be missed talk will be delivered by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation senior economist Francois Picotte.

“He speaks every year but, normally he gives a 15 to 20 minute talk. This year he’s got an hour. He’s going to be going through how mining impacts on the GDP (gross domestic product), both Canadian and Nunavut,” said Ham.

“And he gives a really good talk. A number of people have said they’re really interested to hear what an economist has to say about how we’re moving forward.”

Finally, DeBeers Canada will make its presence felt at the symposium for the first time. The company recently purchased Peregrine Diamonds, located between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung.

“They have a program now that offers scholarships to young who are entering into science, technology and engineering. They will be announcing that at our session.”

Registration has been topping off at 400 delegates, and this year has been especially difficult to accommodate the influx into Iqaluit due to the lack of hotel space. But Ham anticipates the symposium will grow when new hotels, which are under construction, are completed.

She says many companies and organizations are holding back on how many people they send.