Baker Lake residents welcome mine, job opportunities

Mine could mean $3 million in wages for hamlet

By JIM BELL

The Meadowbank gold mine project already appears to enjoy wide support among residents of Baker Lake, where the unemployment rate stands at around 26 per cent.

At a public information session held there in 2003, a member of the community’s hamlet council urged residents to “forget about the fish and support the project for the jobs,” according to minutes of the meeting produced by Cumberland Resources.

Michael Haqpi, a Baker Lake resident employed by Cumberland Resources as a community liaison worker, said his office has already received about 70 resumes from Baker Lake residents.

They also have 40 resumes from Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet, and Arviat, 10 from Alberta, and one or two from the Baffin region, Haqpi said.

To construct the mine, they’ll need about 350 workers. To operate it, they’ll need about 250. But only a quarter to a third of those workers are likely to be Inuit from Baker Lake and the Kivalliq region, Cumberland says in its environmental impact statement.

The company says that depending on “local workforce capacity, skill levels and training programs during the early operational life of the mine,” they might be able to hire between 60 and 90 people from Baker Lake and elsewhere in the Kivalliq.

But even that low share of Meadowbank jobs could inject an extra $3 million a year in wages into Baker Lake’s economy, according to Cumberland’s estimates.

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