An Inuit elder pointed to a ridge on the barren landscape where Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. had proposed to build its Meadowbank gold mine. Out there, he said, is where his ancestors were buried. But that wouldn’t stop him from supporting the miner’s development, which proved local folklore right: The area was rich with gold.
In that moment nearly a decade ago, Agnico Eagle chief executive officer Sean Boyd said he knew the people of Nunavut welcomed development, as long as it respected their land and provided Inuit with economic opportunities.
“We returned from that first visit and concluded quite quickly that this was a place we could do business,” he said during an interview in his Toronto office, fresh off a trip to the territory some 2,500 kilometres north. “They weren’t anti-mining and we just felt that was refreshing.”
Agnico Eagle is betting that the future of development in Canada’s least populated territory is bright. Last month it announced a US$1.2 billion investment to develop the recently-approved Amaruq and Meliadine projects in Nunavut. The Toronto-based miner is already a big player in the territory’s small economy, comprising some 20 per cent of its GDP and employing more than 400 Inuit.
Miners already operating in the territory, including Agnico Eagle and TMAC Resources Inc., believe they have found the increasingly rare combination of a region with extraordinary untapped mineral potential and a mining-friendly community.
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