Russian-owned mining company puts Nunavut exploration project on ice

Nordgold says company plans to resume work in 2023, after processing 2021 drilling results

Nordgold is a Russian-owned mining company that operates a gold exploration project near Whale Cove, as seen here through its campsite. Nordgold will put its exploration on hiatus this year, representatives from the company told Whale Cove’s hamlet on March 17. (Photo courtesy of Dave Smith)

By David Lochead

Nordgold S.E. has put its gold exploration plans in Nunavut on hold until next year.

The Russian-owned company, which operates the Pistol Bay project, has mineral rights to an 860-square kilometre parcel near Whale Cove. Representatives from Nordgold gave the news to the hamlet on March 17, according to Mayor Percy Kabloona.

The company wants more time to process its 2021 drilling results, which were received in February, spokesperson Olga Ulveya told Nunatsiaq News in an email.

The delay comes on the heels of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

It also comes on the heels of a major shakeup in the company’s executive roster.

Alexey Mordashov, Russia’s richest man, stepped down as Nordgold’s non-executive director on March 1. Now, Nordgold’s website lists Marina Mordashova — reportedly Mordashov’s wife — as the controlling shareholder with 52 per cent of the company’s shares.

Mordashov was added to the EU’s sanction list on Feb. 28 due to his stake in the Bank Rossiya, considered to be the “personal bank” of senior Russian officials.

In response to the sanctions, Mordashov has said publicly he is not involved in the conflict and wants it to stop, as it is “a tragedy of two fraternal peoples.”

On March 7, four members of the company’s non-Russian board of directors — Michael Nossal, Brian Beamish, David Morgan and John Munro — stepped down from Nordgold as well.

Canada has also sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and dozens of entities, including some businesses. Neither Nordgold or Mordashov appear on Canada’s current list. The country has levied sanctions based on how the measures would impact the Russian government, Department of Global Affairs spokesperson Jason Kung said.

Nordgold, which is based in the United Kingdom, operates in Canada through its subsidiary, Northquest Ltd. The company has not been approached by Canada and continues to operate as normal, Ulyeva said.

After the invasion, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said Russia “threatens the stability of the Arctic.”

When speaking to Nunatsiaq News, Akeeagok said the Government of Nunavut has no immediate response to Nordgold’s operations in Nunavut.

Nordgold has been operating the Pistol Bay project since 2014 and recently got approval to move its campsites closer to Whale Cove, a move the company said at the time could increase the number of people it seasonally employs from 15 to 20.

Arviat North MLA John Main said this year’s hiatus is a concern because of the lost employment opportunities and he will be looking into how to support people in Whale Cove who find themselves without work.

Main added that while he does not have knowledge about Nordgold’s business outside of Canada, the Pistol Bay project has been beneficial to Whale Cove and Nordgold has been a good corporate citizen in the hamlet.

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(30) Comments:

  1. Posted by pissed off on

    Goes to show you that very often some people operate in the world ( and also in the North ) without local people not really knowing who is behind their activities.
    Layers of corporate entities make it easy to hide the true owners and the source of their money.
    See the husband- wife instant move to shift the ownership and hide from legal issues.
    Try to sue those for very valid reasons. Good luck
    And they retain RIGHTS to a big chunk of Nunavut land via the FEDS
    Thank you

    • Posted by NORTHERN on

      Money travels the world and also runs it

  2. Posted by KAREN FALCH on

    Headquarter in Moscow. 8,000 employees word wide and 12 in Canada…Canada must be desperate.

  3. Posted by Benficiary on

    Inuit don’t have a clue who owes Mineral rights oil their own Territory. Only the Leaders who made the deals know. 8,000 employees and probably 12 of them in Whale Cove.

  4. Posted by Sam on

    Where are our IPgs, with their staff, anyhow Agnico Eagle your up next deposit for you .

  5. Posted by Bk on

    Why we as Nunavut selling parts of our land to other countries?
    Why can’t we educate ourselves to run mines and keep it to ourselves?

    • Posted by NORTHERN on

      A song by Nazereth goes ” Dream on though its hard to tell, though your foolin yourself dream on”

  6. Posted by Patrick Greenaway on

    It’s time our Canadian Government get a handle on whom they are permitting to mine OUR Natural Resources. ?????

    • Posted by Land is who’s? on

      I don’t know where this mine is, but if it is on Inuit land isn’t it usually headed by an Inuit committee if they get to stake a claim there?

      Why all of a sudden are you blaming the federal government for the mistakes of an Inuit organization?

  7. Posted by Jimmy on

    “OUR” natural resources will be sold on international markets. If you don’t like that, then maybe the Saudis and and all the other oil-producing countries should stop selling “THEIR” resources to us. Then you can watch the price of oil going to a level that nobody can afford. This country would be in big trouble if foreign raw materials (and the end products that are manufactured here and abroad with those raw materials) were denied to us. We would also be in big trouble if our resources only went to the tiny Canadian market or just left in the ground.

    Whether we like it or not, we live with a global economy. If Canadians want to invest in and control the resource sector then we are free to do so. Trouble is, there’s not enough money or initiative in Canada to do it.

  8. Posted by Umingmak on

    Ownership of this mine should be stripped from the Russians and handed to the Kivalliq Inuit Association, and they should be able to sell it to whoever they think is best suited to operate it, with the profits going to better the lives of Kivalliq Inuit.

    • Posted by Jimmy on

      What mine? This is just an exploration project. There will be no “profits”, unless the KIA wants to bring it from an exploration project to a full-fledged mine. I doubt that would ever happen.

    • Posted by JOHNNY on

      In 2000 , Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe kicked all the white farmers off their land and gave it to his supports , who had no experience in farming, now Zimbabwe is a basket case. Does anybody from , the KIA know , how to run a mine ?

      • Posted by iRoll on

        To begin with it’s an ‘exploration camp’ not a ‘mine’.

        If you decide to confiscate the site you are essentially stealing it. Like that or not, it shows the business world you are bad faith actors incapable of being trusted.

        The example above about Zimbabwe is a very good one, I would recommend you and all other Inuit nationalists who dream of ethnically cleansing Nunavut, a recurring theme in this forum, to study it well.

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      Uganda kicked out Indians because they controlled most of the businesses and farms in Uganda. All the businesses and farms were just handed over to Ugandans who had no experience in running businesses and farms. When they failed it became a national crisis situation and they started inviting them back.

      • Posted by SARCASM on

        I wonder , who the field marshall Idi Amin of nunavut is.

      • Posted by InukHeart on

        When i Went to bed i was in Nunavut, when i wake up this Morning i was still in Nunavut, who cares about Uganda ? this is Nunavut Not Africa Right ?
        Funny How African Politics and Ideas Suddenly Just Pop’s Up Out of Nowhere, (Peek a Boo) ABBA, Gee I Wonder Why ?

        • Posted by No Moniker on

          You are missing the broader point here.

          The idea that if KIA were to confiscate this project and redistribute whatever revenues it might produce is a legitimate way to access revenue and improve quality life factors for Kivalliq Inuit an idea that has been tried elsewhere, and has spectacularly failed elsewhere (yes, Africa.

          Call this a cautionary tale.

          Of course, Umingmak’s comment is absurd and will almost certainly never happen and for good reason. You might not see it but it would hurt Inuit more than help. Zoom out a little and think bigger and you can see that.

  9. Posted by Old timer on

    Everyone should go wipe out that camp and say we did this because you guys are doing this to Ukraine.

    • Posted by Again on

      OK moderator. Seriously? GET YOUR SH$T TOGETHER.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        I sometimes wonder if there are moral dilemmas in the Nunatsiaq news room surrounding certain comments. Does this one ‘cross the line,’ for example, or does it have some conversational or intellectual value in it higher than mere ‘shock value’?

        Now I see there are no such dilemmas. The idea that there might be is clearly a fiction.

        So, all things being permissible, I suppose the name of the game must be ‘reader engagement’?

        Is that accurate, Mr. Editor?

        • Posted by S on

          The name of the game is:

          “Does this commemt or article fit mainstream social-media’s narrative of promoting an oligarchy-controlled brand of socialim?”


          “Is this our type of propaganda?

  10. Posted by Won’t be fooled on

    This is not the 1940s, info is readily accessible today, more than our grandparents would have imagined back when. Suppression of info, the sophistication of propaganda is leaps and bounds ahead from where it was in the WW2. We all need to be a bit more suspicious of media that explains things in black and white, good vs evil.

    • Posted by Frodos Parka on

      The ability of the average Canadian citizen to think critically for themselves is absent in at least 31% of those that voted in the last election.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        Critical thinking is something to be valued, but it is not always a clearly understood term either. In fact I sometimes wonder what people who wield the term in forums like this think it means?

        Given the way it is often used I suspect it sometimes assumes (and this is arguably subconscious) that a critical thinker is a person who has reached similar conclusions to myself on a specific issue.

        What do you think about that assessment, Frodos Parka?

      • Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

        Apparently the same challenge exists here but in a higher percentage.

      • Posted by Critical Tinker on

        the Cons got 33.7% of the vote
        the Libs got 32.6% of the vote
        the NDP got 17.8% of the vote
        the Bloc got 7.6% of the vote
        the PPC got 5% of the vote
        the Greens got 2.3% of the vote
        I’d have to call in to question your critical thinking skills regarding how you got to 31%.

  11. Posted by Iqaluit on

    That’s not the only problem with money staying in nunavut for example all the construction site all the money goes to south and another big problem is norhmart they all are benifeting from inuits all the money going south so I don’t know what stays here in nunavut. We have the worse government 8n the world only white people takes all the benefits.

  12. Posted by CHRISTOPHER Schafer on

    I worked there last year, it is a good project with great people and I’m very sorry that we won’t have the opportunity this year. I’m hopeful the local employees will find other employment opportunities but maybe not so close to home. It was really cool that you could drive from the site too the community not all locations in Nunavut have that.

  13. Posted by Warmonger on

    Clean them out , strip them out of the lands and get a Canadian company that’ll benefit the beneficiaries . Russia is a country that’ll start world war three . Why support there exploration. Most of Nunavut is sold to foreign countries so why bother right ? Our Kia would have responded with that answer.

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