Canadian Royalties starts Nunavik production (Nunatsiaq-online – November 6, 2013)

Beleaguered mine says it will begin to generate revenue, pay off creditors starting at month’s end

Canadian Royalties Ltd. has shipped its first load of copper concentrate from its Nunavik Nickel project, the company said in a Nov. 5 news release.

That signals a new beginning for the beleaguered mine, which struggled to get operations up and running while owing more than $50 million to its creditors.

“We are very pleased that CRI has achieved the significant milestone of producing and shipping saleable concentrate,” said the company’s acting chief executive officer Parviz Farsangi Nov. 5. “As discussed with many of our suppliers, CRI will begin to generate revenue in less than a month from the sale of the concentrate and will be making payments as committed to all of its suppliers.”

After sinking $735 million into infrastructure, Jien Canada Mining Ltd., the Chinese company that took over Canadian Royalties several years ago, had planned to ramp up production in early 2013, training and hiring more Nunavik workers.

But Jien Canada turned the cash-strapped mine over to the Toronto private business bank Forbes and Manhattan July 19, with hopes of salvaging the project.

As of August 2013, creditors including Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, Desgagnés Transarctik Inc., the fuel division of the Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, Laval Fortin Adams, Iglu Construction and Nuvumiut Developments (Ganotec-Nunavumiut and Kiewit-Nunavumiut) were owed a total of about $54 million by the Chinese-owned mine.

Since then, Forbes and Manhattan has worked to restructure the project, resulting in a new production plan and “a more stream-lined operation and a plan to assure the long-term viability of the project,” said the Nov. 5 release.

“We believe that the new plan in place at CRI will ensure that the operation will be sustainable, profitable and create many jobs for several years,” said Stan Bharti, chair of Forbes and Manhattan, in the same release.

It’s not clear how many workers are currently employed at the mine. Canadian Royalties said that over the course of the mine’s development, it has employed several hundred people and used the services of over 350 suppliers, “the majority of whom were Quebec-based or part of the Inuit community.”

Makivik Corp., which in 2008 received a $1 million signing bonus for the Inuit Benefits Agreement with Canadian Royalties, was to receive a second $1 million payment when the Nunavik Nickel Mine started operations this year.

After that, over the mine’s lifespan, the deal was to generate up to $80 million in benefits for Makivik and the three communities nearest the mine, Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq.

The IBA also gave Inuit priority on jobs worth about $14 million or more a year as well as other spinoffs valued at least $50 million.

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