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Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq reject Makivik's deal with mining company

Communities want bigger share of nickel profits

By JANE GEORGE

KUUJJUAQ – Community leaders in Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq want a larger share of profit from the Nunavik Nickel Mine development, which will see new open pit mines, more roads, another airport and other mine infrastructure built near their communities.

"We are the ones who will be most affected," said Kangiqsujuaq mayor Mary Pirlutuut.

The leaders of the three communities say it's not greed, but a desire for fairness that caused them to reject an agreement-in-principle for an impact and benefits agreement that Makivik Corp. recently negotiated with Canadian Royalties, the firm that's planning to build the mine.

The deal called for a 50-50 split of a share of profits between Makivik and the communities of Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq as compensation for the environmental impacts associated with the mine project.

But the three communities want a 30-70 split, in their favour.

Pirlutuut told last week's meeting of the Kativik Regional Government council, on which she also sits as a regional councillor, that her community only saw the full text of the AIP after the deal had been completed.

Pirlutuut said communities located close to mining projects should be full partners in all impact and benefits agreements for mining projects.

But section 2.3 of the 2002 Sanarrutik agreement, signed between Quebec, Makivik and the KRG, says Makivik is the organization that negotiates and signs on behalf of Nunavimmiut for benefits from mining development.

A recent letter to Makivik from the landholding corporations of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq and the Northern Village of Puvirnituq, alleged the corporation had been "authoritarian" and suggested Makivik should no longer be the sole legally designated party to negotiate and sign impact and benefit agreements for mining developments in Nunavik.

This letter sparked a Feb. 20 meeting between Makivik and representatives of the three communities in Kuujjuaq, which put the deal with Canadian Royalties back into negotiation.

Richard Faucher, Canadian Royalties' chief executive officer, said he is aware of the dispute.

Faucher said the deal gives much more to the communities than the 1995 agreement for the Raglan Mine. Profit-sharing from the Raglan Agreement has so far produced millions of dollars for Makivik Corp., the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq and beneficiaries throughout Nunavik.

"In our negotiations we were strongly impressed by the commitment of the Makivik executives to better their region and the life of all communities," Faucher said.

The deal for the Nunavik Nickel Mine would give Inuit priority for jobs worth about $14 million a year as well as spin-offs valued at $50-million.

The mine is expected to create 300 jobs during the construction phase and 270 jobs when in operation.

The target for Inuit employment is 80 to 90 per cent during construction, Faucher said.

"That's part of commitment we're making," he said.

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