A healthy exploration and mining sector is good for Nunavut

National Mining Week for 2016: May 9 to May 16


It’s the 20th anniversary of National Mining Week, from May 9 to May 16, and an opportunity for Canada’s mining industry to gather and celebrate its contributions to the country and its peoples.

Nowhere are these contributions more evident than right here in Nunavut.

Nunavut’s mining and exploration industry is the largest private sector contributor to the territory’s economy and directly represents over 18 per cent of its gross domestic product.

That’s with just two mining operations: Meadowbank in the Kivalliq region and Mary River on north Baffin Island.

But it doesn’t stop there. All across the three regions of Nunavut, Nunavummiut are waking up to the significant benefits that can be afforded to them and their families in the form of:

• Training: provided by the Kivalliq Mine Training Society; the GN Mine Training Roundtable; and programs established by the regional Inuit associations either through Inuit impact benefit agreements or directly through their own economic development corporations and; significant on-the-job training programs paid for by companies.

• Community contributions: through impact benefit agreements, donations, contests, and sponsorships.

• Infrastructure development: through roads, airstrips, ports and loading areas, and community infrastructure including recreation facilities.

• And of course, many high paying and important jobs.

Statistics Canada has released its latest employment figures for Nunavut.

They aren’t pretty. Despite their best efforts, the GN and Inuit organizations have been unable to increase employment, in particular for Inuit, for over five years.

We know exploration and mining can help with that. For example, right now at Meadowbank mine, over 300 people from across the Kivalliq region are employed in well-paying jobs.

So much of what we see in the media relates to the poor state of affairs on the social, educational, and economic levels.

But there are good things happening in Nunavut too. There is a proposal for a university with $5 million in seed funding provided by Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.

With more projects like Hope Bay, Back River, and Meliadine moving closer to becoming producing mines, more jobs are coming.

Taxes paid to government by companies and Nunavummiut can be applied to health — both mental and physical — and better housing, which in turn provides an overall sense of confidence and well-being.

Mining is good for the people. We know this because we see it happening every day across the country and right here in Nunavut. All we have to do is reach out and grab it.

Elizabeth Kingston is the Nunavut general manager for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

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