Debate continues to simmer around the pending $149-million (U.S.) sale of TMAC Resources and control of the Kitikmeot Hope Bay gold property to Chinese-based Shandong Gold Mining.

“If Canada had real economic development corporations and gave the North’s indigenous development corporations meaningful capital, then we could actually own some of our own resources as a country,” says Yellowknife MLA Rylund Johnson.
photo courtesy of TMAC Resources

Commenting on a previous Nunavut News article about the prospective deal, Yellowknife MLA Rylund Johnson strongly urged the Government of Canada to reject the purchase agreement.

“There is no benefit to the Inuit in having a Canadian colonizer swapped out for a Chinese one,” Johnson wrote. “There are so many risks that come with allowing the Chinese government to increase influence in the Arctic, including the fact they are one of our main competitors in mining.”

Johnson quoted a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report that warned against the purchase of a different Canadian company by a Chinese state-owned enterprise – and Shandong Mining is also state-owned. The report warned of “vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, control over strategic sectors, espionage and foreign-influenced activities, and illegal transfer of technology and expertise” as China strengthens its stake in Canada.

Johnson faulted the federal government for failing to invest enough in the Arctic.

“If Canada had real economic development corporations and gave the North’s indigenous development corporations meaningful capital, then we could actually own some of our own resources as a country,” he stated. “As it is set up right now, China will keep stepping in when Canada fails to invest in its own development. Canada should not approve this sale for Arctic sovereignty reasons, but as a remedy for denying the sale they should give Inuit development corporations the capital to buy and operate the mine themselves.”

Cathy Towtongie, MLA for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, referred to the potential deal as “very troubling,” but for a different reason.

“There are two Canadians jailed in (China) over an issue of retaliation of Canada arresting an executive. Yet here in Nunavut, a mine is being sold,” said Towtongie. “We ought to be more vigilant than just selling out.”

“All companies operating in Nunavut and in Canada must abide by the rules and regulations that permit their operations, from start-up to closure, regardless of ownership,” says Economic Development and Mines Minister David Akeeagok.
photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

David Akeeagok, Nunavut’s minister of mines and economic development, said he’s confident that the federal government’s review will “balance the complexities of this kind of transaction.”

“All companies operating in Nunavut and in Canada must abide by the rules and regulations that permit their operations, from start-up to closure, regardless of ownership,” Akeeagok said. “The Government of Nunavut continues to monitor the situation closely and will work with the company to support sustainable development of our resources and provide opportunities to Nunavummiut that balance environmental concerns and economic benefits.”

Akeeagok also noted that there are existing Inuit Impact Benefit Agreements in place with TMAC Resources to ensure employment opportunities for Nunavut Inuit well into the future.

John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, said if the federal government and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s reviews of the deal allow it to proceed, then he doesn’t have any concerns.

Main pointed out that private investment drives exploration and mining worldwide and Nunavut needs those investment dollars.

“We need Nunavut to be seen as a competitive, stable jurisdiction for investment. I’m less concerned about the nationality of the companies working here and more concerned about whether the industry as a whole provides sufficient benefit to our communities,” he said.

Like Akeeagok, Main said there are established environmental and employment standards that Shandong Mining would be required to meet. He added that partnerships need to be forged between governments, Inuit organizations and industry to ensure more Nunavummiut are filling jobs at the mines.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

6 replies on “Don’t sell Hope Bay to China, Yellowknife MLA warns”

  1. Oh my goodness…as a resident of this region, I can not but feel sad that we are selling out our land and resources to China…when will the MLA’s listen to us instead of listening to money rolling in their pockets to help us?…I am sure that we can find another company that can over take this mine that will be Canadian own,,,as a former miner for the last 22 years, I have heard and seen Chinese mining companies operating in Canada and many of them do not hire local Canadians as they are state owned companies…also they are very unsafe as long as they make money anyway….some BC natives don’t even get any IBA benefits…all goes to China and federal government.

  2. Canada is ranked #39 in the world by population and has achieved the world’s 10th largest economy. That’s commendable.

    The Chinese company trying to buy this mine is a state-owned company. That means it’s subsidized by the government of China.

    My questions are these. Why does the Government of China (who has the 2nd largest economy in the world and wants to grow it even larger) believe that this form of subsidy and investment is good for China, while the Canadian government does not want to support Canadian opportunities in this sector? What is China seeing that Canada is failing to see? China is willing to allow Canadian workers and suppliers to benefit from this proposed purchase so that they can make a profit from said workers and suppliers. Why would Canada not want to keep that profit in Canada?

    You know China will just use those profits to buy another Canadian mine in the future.

  3. I do not agree with selling our resources to foreign countries. Before we know it all our land is foreign owned.

  4. We as a Country are stupid to sell our Natural Resources to Foreign countries, only Canadians should be allowed to purchase Canadian land, natural resources and many businesses that are now owned by foreign interests.
    It’s scary to think that we may lose control of our own country at some point in time.

  5. I do not live in the North but anyone with common sense can see that a sale of our resources so close to the Arctic to China is foolish! China has proven that it cannot be trusted; they simply want to gain control of the region as an entry to North America down the road!

  6. Politics will allow it to happen, it’s all about money money for the government. The people of Tumbler Ridge BC did not want the Chinese mining company in their community if they were not going to hire locals, and the government allowed the company to mine with the way the company wanted to hire there staff, an they only hired Chinese staff. People speak out and governments do not listen.

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