OPINION: Iron ore mining not for the faint of heart—it’s a tough business – by Gary Vivian (Nunatsiaq News – November 19, 2019)


Gary Vivian is the President, N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

It’s important that people understand that governments around the
world—both public and Indigenous—invite mining companies to come
and invest in order to do what those governments themselves cannot
do: that is to convert rock into training, into jobs, into business opportunities
and to generate revenues that can help benefit governments’ constituencies
and beneficiaries.

For example, in Alaska, government funding provided the port and
road for the Red Dog mine, which is owned by the Inupiat and
operated by Teck. The company pays off that road and port over
time with annual payments.

The N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines was created over 50 years ago, and our vision is to work for “a strong minerals industry that benefits the peoples of the North.” From that perspective, we would like to offer the following thoughts and observations on the Mary River mining project.

The Mary River project is a game-changing opportunity for Nunavut and Nunavummiut. It provides an opportunity for longer term training, employment and sustained revenues for Inuit, Inuit associations and governments.

In 1962, two flying prospectors discovered the high quality but remote Mary River iron ore deposits on northern Baffin Island. Despite being found to be of better quality than most deposits being mined around the world, their remote location and the low iron ore prices in a very competitive marketplace dashed any hopes of ever mining them economically.

Thus, the iron ore deposits would remain as interesting oddities for another 50 years. A quick Google of 30-year iron ore prices, for example, indexmundi.com, shows why Mary River had no chance of becoming a mine at historically flat and low prices.

However, with an almost 500 per cent jump in prices, briefly in 2008, and then again, from 2010 to 2013, market optimism suggested mining at Mary River might be possible. With rising iron ore prices and a positive outlook, Baffinland Iron Mines made the decision in 2008 to unlock the Mary River iron ore opportunity.

For the rest of this opinion column: https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/iron-ore-mining-not-for-the-faint-of-heart-its-a-tough-business/