David Akeeagok: Nunavut needs connection to southern infrastructure to lower mining costs

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For the annual NWT & Nunavut Mining feature that recently appeared in Nunavut News, we approached MLAs for their perspective on the mining industry in the territory. These were the responses from David Akeeagok, minister responsible for mines and Quttiktuq MLA. The full edition of NWT & Nunavut Mining can be found here: https://nnsl.com/special-feature-publications/nwt-nunavut-mining-2019/

Q: What do you consider to be the greatest advantages and disadvantages of mining in the Nunavut?

Economic Development Minister and Quttiktuq MLA David Akeeagok says “more than 500 Nunavummiut from over half of our communities now work at the mines bringing financial security and benefits to many families.” photo courtesy of the GN

A: Our greatest disadvantage is that Nunavut has a limited amount of infrastructure and companies find it difficult to start up. The infrastructure deficit significantly increases operating and capital costs required to mine in Nunavut. A moderate amount of southern-connected infrastructure would go a long way to lowering costs when establishing a business in our geographically remote region. This is especially true for the mining sector.

Q: Do you believe the mines do enough overall for the territory in terms of employment, royalties, donations and legacy projects?

A: The Government of Nunavut looks for industry to provide benefits to Nunavummiut, such as training, employment, community wellness, transportation and infrastructure. Through Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreements, full Inuit employment is what companies work towards. To achieve this, they invest heavily in training programs to build capacity in our local workforce. These efforts are paying off. More than 500 Nunavummiut from over half of our communities now work at the mines bringing financial security and benefits to many families.

Click on image to read downloadable edition of Nunavut/NWT Mining 2019.

In Nunavut, mining companies make significant donations to many local organizations, community events, sponsor activities across Nunavut and often voluntarily assist during emergencies. We encourage industry to help us build a foundation today so that we can prosper tomorrow.

Q: Should mines be involved in supplying housing in surrounding communities?

A: There is a long history of mining companies supplying housing in mining towns or communities springing up near a new mine, with mixed outcomes. As the mining industry is still relatively young in Nunavut, there are a number of options beyond fly-in, fly-out accommodations. The Government of Nunavut is open to considering these and we strive to ensure all stakeholders work together to find the most effective solutions to these important issues.