Inuit org, AEM sign benefits deal for Nunavut’s Meliadine gold project
“This is another step for a brighter future for Inuit”
It took more than three years of talks — which broke down at least once — but the Kivalliq Inuit Association and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. have finally completed and signed an Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement July 13 for the Meliadine gold project.
Officials from both the KIA and AEM signed the agreement in Rankin Inlet, just 24 kilometres away from what would be Nunavut’s third operating mine, and second gold mine, after Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine outside of Baker Lake.
While complete details of the IIBA are yet to be made public, signatories, in a July 13 news release, said it addresses the protection of Inuit values, culture and language as well as the natural environment. Agnico Eagle told Nunatsiaq News the terms of the agreement will be made public once it translated into Inuktitut.
With the signing of the IIBA, Agnico Eagle says it’s made its first payment of $1.5 million to the KIA.
The release also commits the company to working toward a minimum rate of 50 per cent Inuit employment at the mine.
“KIA has strived to balance the need to protect wildlife and the environment,” said president David Ningeongan in the same release. “This will lead to future sustainable development and benefits for Inuit in the Kivalliq region.
“For more than 40 months KIA has worked hard on finalizing and strengthening the IIBA for Inuit in the Kivalliq,” he added. “By signing this IIBA, this is another step for a brighter future for Inuit.”
Talks between the Inuit association and the mining company hit a roadblock last fall, when Agnico Eagle asked the federal government to intervene and provide compulsory arbitration.
The company said the two parties were having issues reaching a deal on the financial compensation component of the IIBA, as well as with “preference points” for Inuit contractors.
But the two sides appeared to have worked through their differences on their own, agreeing to sit back down at the table weeks later, without arbitration.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board issued Meliadine its project certificate earlier this year, subject to 127 terms and conditions.
Agnico Eagle has said the mine could produce 400,000 ounces of gold per year over a 13-year lifespan, and hopes to run the mine from about 2018 to 2030, and possibly longer.
However, the company has yet to make a final decision to build a mine there; Agnico Eagle said it plans to take the project to its board of directors sometime in 2016.
In the meantime, the mining company says it continues to expand Meliadine’s underground ramp.
But most of its exploration work is currently focused on the Amaruq discovery, about 50 kilometres north of Meadowbank.