Open letter to public and Indigenous government leaders in the N.W.T and Nunavut

“We strongly urge you to stand up in support of responsible resource investment and development”

Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine site near Baker Lake, photographed in August 2019. (File photo)

By Ken Armstrong
President, N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Dear northern leaders:

You will have seen the announcement this past week by Teck Resources to withdraw its regulatory application for the Frontier oil sands mining project in Alberta from the federal environmental assessment process.

This withdrawal puts on ice, after more than $1.1 billion of investment, a $20.6-billion “socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.”

Investors need legal and policy certainty before investing in any jurisdiction, and we are very concerned that Teck’s decision could cast a pall over all of Canada as a safe country for investment.

While minerals mining and exploration in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut is not the same as oil sands mining in Alberta, given that Teck’s Frontier proposal was also characterized as a mining project, we are concerned that investors may not distinguish between the two, and may no longer want to invest in any resource development in Canada, including the N.W.T. and Nunavut.

This would not be good for either territory, given that our minerals industry is providing significant employment, business, royalty and other benefits to Indigenous northerners and their governments.

Furthermore, it is also important to highlight that resource development decisions in both the N.W.T. and Nunavut benefit from a modern co-management regulatory process with full involvement from local communities and Indigenous governments and organizations.

We are getting feedback from our industry members that the impact of Teck’s decision is being talked about by national and international investors.

While we are hopeful that the N.W.T. and Nunavut don’t get painted with that same brush, it would be good for leaders—territorial and Indigenous—to speak out in support of investment in a responsible and sustainable northern minerals industry that works with governments and communities to ensure benefits accrue to the territories and their residents.

We strongly urge you to stand up in support of responsible resource investment and development in the N.W.T. and Nunavut.

Your strong statements of support could help differentiate the N.W.T. and Nunavut as good investment destinations, despite what is happening in Alberta.

Yours truly,

Ken Armstrong
N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Polar Bear on

    Wait, are we supposed to be upset about planet-destroying industries cancelling their planet-destroying projects?
    There is no such things as “responsible” or “sustainable” heavy industry, and hiding the ecological and environmental harm behind touted economic benefits is monstrous. Everyone knows that these mines will be closed and abandoned instantly if the whims of capitalists demand it. We’ve seen it with Nanisivik, we may see it with Baffinland. And for what? So a few rich southerners can get richer while destroying the environment.
    But it’s okay because a handful of local Inuit will get whatever jobs that aren’t already taken by southern contractors, right?

  2. Posted by Putuguk on

    Polar Bear – Nanisivik Mine opened in 1976 and operated until 2002, much longer than a typical mine. It closed due to low prices and demand for zinc. I gather we must be all guilty of whimsical capitalism too as we do not harvest seal very much anymore because of the price.

    It was not abandoned. The company developed a closure and reclamation plan in 2004. There was a complete review of this plan. The plan was then approved by the Nunavut Water Board. From 2006 to 2008, the Mine was reclaimed by the company according to the approved plan.

    The site is currently being monitored to see if it was closed and reclaimed properly. If the monitoring shows that the reclamation was not successful, the company will have to go in again and do more work. Based on all this, it is not accurate to say that this mining operation “destroyed the environment”.

    Modern human society demands energy, materials and resources. If there is another company out there that can produce the amount of energy as Tech could have without fossil fuels, they have not stepped up to the plate yet.

    And, those so called “Clean” energy companies that theoretically could? I have news for you. They are capitalists too. And, they will need massive amounts of materials and resources in order to meet the needs of our society in other ways.

    Just try building a wind turbine without the iron (hint – they are 75% steel) from places like Mary River and see how far you get.

  3. Posted by Miner 1 on

    This open letter implies that TECH walked away because of regulatory uncertainty in Alberta. It then goes on to ask northern governments to provide such regulatory certainty.
    I’ve got news for you.
    TECH walked away because their banker decided that now is not a good time for it to make that investment.
    Their banker decided that it is in deep trouble because China is no longer generating surplus cash and looking for places to put it.
    Their banker recognizes that, in the coming economic downturn, governments will have to put money into the hands of individual consumers. Governments will not be in a position to bail out the banks and finance long term investments.

  4. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    How could major projects be socially and environmentally responsible when they infringe upon Inuit culture and traditions? Their view on significant impacts to terrestrial, marine and Inuit traditions is minimal.
    Take Baffinland for instance. Inuit view their project has significant impact to the their traditional hunting and camping areas. Inuit also say marine mammals they used to hunt are no longer there. Terrestrial animals are no longer in their usual habitats. Marine mammals are gone because of hundreds of ships going to and from the port site. Even if fish are in their traditional habitats, their ecosystem has been compromised so much that Inuit no longer fish in those areas close to the mine.
    Replacing traditions of hunting and sustaining on country food cannot be adequately replaced by mere economic benefits however significant they may be. The traditional way of life for Inuit living near the Mary River mine is about to be lost. And for what? A few decades of extracting iron ore at the cost of thousands of years of tradition.

  5. Posted by Huckleberry on

    One of our warnings probably more or less to come. Be careful what we do, say and decide for our land. I harvest many caribous per year due to our exciting hunting ground. I believe in protecting our land but due to population growth, we see the need for jobs and finding a solution to create more jobs and protecting our land has been our biggest issue. Ten years ago there were couple of family going around town asking for food to eat. Today, these same family now has jobs at the mines and since they’ve had a job they never come in and ask for food. Some even have their own hunting equipment now. The next step I guess is, make sure reclamation is done properly. We’ll soon see how well Meadowbank is cleaned up and we’ll use it as a reference to note how good/bad it is. After this, is it a possibility to start a new community within these abandoned mines as it has road, create for ourselves new hunting ground/cabin locations. Think further I think is the key today but yes, protect our land and our people!

  6. Posted by Consistency on

    We do not want our land messed up by mines and there should be ways to have some mines in Nuanvut without loosing all our wildlife. But we should not just give the mines free reign. and we have some rich resources but if we say hold up to a few now maybe we wont get lied to like Baffinland does.

    But really the important thing is to focus on the file photo, there is no way that is August. That is a late June or early July photo not August. haha

  7. Posted by Fearmongering on

    The industries are not the same. The areas are not the same. The beneficiaries are not the same.
    The only thing in common is an outside party looking to make money from non-renewable resources.

Comments are closed.