Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut October 09, 2012 - 11:33 am

Western Nunavut port-road dreams still alive

Mining firms tout transport infrastructure

This map from Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.'s project description report shows the location of its proposed Back River gold mine.
This map from Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.'s project description report shows the location of its proposed Back River gold mine.

CAMBRIDGE BAY — Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region could see two deep-water ports within 10 years if mining projects south of Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk move ahead.

The Bathurst port and road project may yet be developed by two mining companies, following the example of MMG, which plans to build its own deep-water port at Gray’s Bay near Kugluktuk for the Izok Corridor zinc and copper mines.

Sabina Gold and Silver Corp., which is now moving into an environmental review, and Xstrata Zinc cite a proposed port at Bathurst Inlet as key to their respective company’s mining plans.

A recently-circulated information sheet on Xstrata’s Hackett River zinc mine project, still in advanced exploration, notes the project lies 75 kilometres south of a “potential deep-water port” at Bathurst Inlet.

The Hackett River project would produce 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes a day of zinc over 15 years, provide 800 jobs during construction and 500 when operating, with the zinc shipped out through the Northwest Passage, past Resolute and down the west coast of Baffin Island.

Sabina, which bought the BIPAR project from the Kitikmeot Corp. and other Inuit promoters in late 2011, now talks about a “marine laydown area” in Bathurst Inlet for its Back River gold mine, 150 km south of Bathurst Inlet.

Sabina’s traffic at the port would include five to 10 ships per year during construction and three to five ships per year during operations.

The loading and unloading facilities would include a dock, jetty, moorings, and buoys.

On-land infrastructure would include a 55-million-litre fuel tank farm for bulk diesel storage at site, a 100-person camp and an airstrip.

Back River, which would take two years to build, operate for 10 to 15 years and then take five to close down, would hire 1,600 workers during the construction phase and 900 during the mine’s operations.

The project would also include open-pit and underground mines.

Last month, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended the Back River project, which would produce 300,000 to 400,000 ounces of gold a year, for a complete environmental review.

The Kitikmeot Inuit Association told the NIRB it was “pleased” to see the project move ahead, but the KIA has “concerns with air and water quality, engineering, and fish and wildlife habitat.”

Sabina and the KIA have already said they’ll team up on the mine project.

They announced last October that they had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to create a development trust.

The MOU sees Sabina paying about $1.4 million to an existing KIA fund that supports development and community projects in the Kitikmeot.

Sabina and the KIA also agreed that it would be mutually beneficial to enter into long-term Inuit land use agreements.

In a previous deal signed with the Nunavut Resources Corp., Sabina said it would give the group up to $2 million as “seed funding” to develop a work plan for joint infrastructure projects in the Kitikmeot, such as BIPAR.

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