Inuit leaders are hoping a new cycle of mine expansion in Nunavut brings with it a motherlode of jobs and economic spinoffs. “Inuit are very eager and wanting to participate in the economy,” said P.J. Akeeagok of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
His group recently signed an agreement with a mining company that has a billion-dollar expansion proposal before northern regulators. Baffinland’s Mary River mine on the northern end of Baffin Island is considered one of the richest iron deposits in the world.
That’s not the only mining news out of Nunavut. Quebec-based Agnico-Eagle has begun to pour gold at its new mine near Rankin Inlet and is developing another nearby deposit. The two projects represent $1.6 billion in investment since 2017. Agnico-Eagle, which already has about 800 employees and 300 contractors at its Meadowbank mine, expects to hire more for the new ones.
“We’re going to get close to 700 people by the end of the year,” said Dominique Girard, the company’s vice-president for Nunavut. Both companies have already made promises about job levels for Inuit. Like other northern employers — including the government of Nunavut — they’ve had trouble living up to them.
Agnico-Eagle, with a goal of 50 per cent Inuit employment, has achieved about 37 per cent. Although Baffinland has the same target, only about one-quarter of its 1,200 employees and contractors are Inuit. The level has been as low as 14 per cent.
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