Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 06, 2018 - 3:15 pm

Western Nunavut mine’s port, tank farm completed at Bathurst Inlet

Sabina's new infrastructure will allow mine site to be supplied by sealift, rather than solely by air

Here's a bird's-eye view of the new port and tank farm built at the end of Bathurst Inlet for Sabina's gold mine project to the south. (IMAGE COURTESY OF SABINA)
Here's a bird's-eye view of the new port and tank farm built at the end of Bathurst Inlet for Sabina's gold mine project to the south. (IMAGE COURTESY OF SABINA)
You would see no industrial marine traffic at all in Bathurst Inlet before the development of Sabina's port and fuel depot. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
You would see no industrial marine traffic at all in Bathurst Inlet before the development of Sabina's port and fuel depot. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
The star on this map shows the location of the new port facility. (FILE IMAGE)
The star on this map shows the location of the new port facility. (FILE IMAGE)

Nunavut’s Bathurst Inlet, known as Hannigayok in Inuinnaqtun, is now home to a new port and tank farm built by Sabina Gold and Silver Corp., which has forged ahead with its Back River gold mine project.

The project, rejected by regulators in 2016 for its environmental impacts and then approved a year later, now has only its Type A water certificate to go before completing the regulatory process.

Sabina’s plans for Back River include a chain of open pit and underground mines at its Goose property, located on the mainland 400 kilometres south of Cambridge Bay and 520 km north of Yellowknife. The mine is expected to operate for at least 10 years.

The $24-million port and tank farm is “critical infrastructure” for the mine and “provides more efficiency in supporting our exploration and future development activities than the current method of air transport alone,” the company said in a news release on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

The port’s completion allowed for the first sealift supply to be received, the company said.

While this facility is smaller than the larger, $500-million port and road facility that Kitikmeot Inuit Association is promoting or the similar development once proposed for Bathurst Inlet, its construction was still an ordeal, according to Sabina.

In March, equipment and supplies were transported over 150 kilometres by Cat train over a winter ice-road route from the Goose camp to Bathurst Inlet.

Next came a temporary camp and a 5,000-foot ice airstrip for 100 cargo flights, which brought in construction equipment, camp supplies and fuel. Then work involved the digging of a quarry and more construction from April to August 2018.

Now in Bathurst Inlet, you can find a permanent 45-person camp, quarry, temporary fuel storage depot, permanent laydown storage pads, barge landings, connecting roads and permanent fuel tank pads, the company said.

The infrastructure will “greatly improve logistics at Back River,” said Bruce McLeod, Sabina’s president and CEO, in the news release.

The company plans to continue with what it calls a “two-pronged approach” at Back River, by continuing exploration to find more gold and aiming to “de-risk” the project by careful spending.

“We also expect our Type A water licence by the end of this year,” McLeod said.

Earlier this month, Sabina announced it had made a high-grade gold discovery in the Nuvuyak gold zone, about one km west of the Goose main deposit.

The gold-rich lands surrounding the mine project and Bathurst Inlet have always been regarded as lush in vegetation and wildlife, including the Bathurst caribou herd, whose numbers have been in decline.

The population of the Bathurst caribou herd stood at around 450,000 animals in the mid-1980s, but as of 2015, that number had shrunk to around 16,000.

After initially saying no to the mining project in 2016 over environmental concerns, the Nunavut Impact Review Board re-evaluated Sabina’s revised project plans in 2017 and gave it a green light.

The NIRB said Sabina’s new plans outlined some of the most robust caribou protection measures ever developed for the Arctic, including preparation for the possibility of the project overlapping with caribou calving grounds.

In December 2017, the federal government approved the gold mine project.

This past April, Sabina and the KIA finalized an Inuit impact and benefits agreement for the company’s Back River gold project south of Bathurst Inlet in western Nunavut.

This agreement allowed Sabina to undertake exploration work on Inuit-owned land at its Goose property at Back River.

In exchange, the regional Inuit association will receive a one per cent production royalty, as well as shares in Sabina and a commitment to Inuit employment and training.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share Comment on this story...

(6) Comments:

#1. Posted by Don on September 07, 2018

If the mine really wants to invest in the region they will, so pro mining KIA stay away from public money and let the mine build to road and port, just like other areas in Nunavut where mining companies build roads and ports. Why is it so special for this area and company for tax payers to be footed the bill when the giant mining company can pay for it?

There must be some back room dealing going on for a hand full that will benefit if the GN/Feds pay for a road and port for the mining company.

#2. Posted by Observer on September 07, 2018

Don, or, maybe, it has something to do with the fact that there’s a slight difference in cost between what’s really a barge landing area and a 160km long winter/ice road and a full blown port with a 200+ km long all-weather road, maybe?

#3. Posted by Don on September 07, 2018

And yet KIA and certain individuals are pushing hard for a full blown port and road, why is that? People are not ready in the region, small percentage of Inuit in the region might get a job, majority will come from somewhere else. No training, no prepared for this mine. Yet some really want this supported and want tax money to pay for it.

#4. Posted by Josywales on September 09, 2018

#2 & 3, are you referring to the the port proposal at Grays Bay? The news above is about another port, 200 miles away at Bathurst Inlet. This is a done deal built by a different mining proponent with their own money. Get that Kitia? Their own money, not corporate welfare as prposposed at Grays Bay.

#5. Posted by Observer on September 09, 2018

#4, you’re talking about two very different kinds of mining operations. Sabina is mining gold; all they need is someplace to land sealift supplies and fuel. They fly their gold out, and they only need a winter road to resupply.

For the mines that are proposed for Gray’s Bay, they have to ship their product out. It’s not a few hundred kilograms of product a year, but hundreds of thousands of tonnes that need all-weather trucking, a stockpile for ore at the port, a proper port with a dock and other inrastructure to load ships, plus constant maintenance of the road through the year, plus bridges and culverts. The costs are a whole different ballgame. You can’t simply say that because one mining company can afford to do something in one place, another mining company can do something much more expensive and larger somewhere else.

#6. Posted by K I A on September 12, 2018

The other two regions the mines paid for the roads and port, why does KIA heads want tax payers to pay for giant mining infrastructure?

Who would really benefit here and why can’t this mine build their own road and port like other regions?

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?