Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Mining and Oil/Gas

Put mining on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, say Yukon First Nations – by Mike Rudyk (CBC News North – March 31, 2020)

Mining camps with fly-in workers pose risk to communities, says Na-Cho Nyak Dun chief

Some Yukon First Nations want the territorial government to put a stop to any mining or staking in the territory during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation says Victoria Gold’s Eagle Gold Mine operations, with hundreds of workers on a rotating shift schedule, are an enormous risk to the community.

The mine is about 85 kilometres from Mayo. Many of the hundreds of workers come from outside Yukon. Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn wrote an open letter to Premier Sandy Silver last week, saying that having mines open during the pandemic puts the nearby community of Mayo in danger, particularly the elders who live there.

“We are calling on the Yukon government to immediately implement stronger measures to protect remote and Indigenous communities such as [Na-Cho Nyak Dun],” the letter reads. “We cannot protect our citizens alone; we need your help.” Continue Reading →

Nunavut Mining: From pickups to bulldozers and haul trucks, Ola Arnaquq has learned to operate massive vehicles – by Derek Neary (Nunavut News – March 30, 2020)


Sometimes at 5:30 a.m. sometimes at 5:30 p.m., Ola Arnaquq climbs up into giant bulldozers to begin her 12-hour shift at the Mary River iron mine, 160 km south of Pond Inlet. She’s also capable of operating massive rock trucks and haul trucks.

“I was in awe of (these vehicles) and knew as soon as I saw one on site that I’d love to learn to run them,” says Arnaquq, who has been working at the mine for six years. “(It’s) different getting into the seat of one for sure, a bit tense to start but it got easier. Seat time is what helps confidence with operating equipment. Remembering how that feels definitely helps coaching newcomers.”

Prior to starting work with Baffinland Iron Mines, the largest vehicle Arnaquq had ever driven was a pickup truck. Beyond size, the biggest difference between driving a pickup and operating a bulldozer or a haul truck is the elaborate safety precautions for the latter, she says. Continue Reading →

Nunavut mine goes into “lockdown” to reduce risk of COVID-19 – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – March 29, 2020)

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. says its Meliadine mine in Nunavut is in “complete lockdown” for the next 28 days, with no movement of personnel except for emergency situations, to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

The measures, which take effect on Monday, March 30, were announced by the company following a social media uproar created by an employee of one of the mine’s contractors who made dismissive remarks about the mine’s efforts to screen for the new coronavirus.

That’s although the company told Nunatsiaq News that the measures had already been decided on beforehand. These are the comments that angered many in Rankin Inlet who have been worried about the spread of the new coronavirus into their community of about 3,000. (Screen shot) Continue Reading →

First Nations Call For Massive Resource Projects to Be Shut Down During Pandemic – by Anya Zoledziowski ( – March 30, 2020)

Nestled in the Peace River Valley in northeast British Columbia, almost 900 workers continue construction on BC Hydro’s Site C megadam project, which will generate enough energy to power about 450,000 houses per year after its scheduled completion in 2025.

BC Hydro has pushed for the dam despite a slew of controversies over its high greenhouse gas emissions and alleged disregard for wildlife habitat and First Nations hunting sites.

Development has had to scale back considerably amid the looming threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), BC Hydro said, but hundreds of industry workers are still on the ground doing “critical” jobs, like building tunnels and installing spillway gates. Continue Reading →

Mining companies assess worker, community safety in deciding to continue or suspend projects – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – March 27, 2020)

Coronavirus fears force some exploration juniors to break camp, while mine developers proceed cautiously

The coronavirus’ rapid spread across Canada has junior mining executives and mine developers in Northern Ontario weighing the safety and exposure of their workers in deciding whether to proceed or temporarily lock down operations until conditions improve.

The factors of remoteness, proximity to susceptible populations, the ability to contain an outbreak, and a transient workforce figure prominently in their evaluations, as evidenced in a roundup of recent news releases issued by the companies.

Noront Resources decided to pull stakes on their Esker exploration camp in the Ring of Fire. The company calls the closure a “necessary precaution to help protect the health and well-being of our employees and the communities surrounding our operations,” 530 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Continue Reading →

Getting a relationship off on the right foot: Ed Collins helps bridge the cultural gap at DST Consulting Engineers – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – March 19, 2020)

Ed Collins’ teachings about Aboriginal culture seem to be rubbing off on some of his coworkers at DST Consulting Engineers. The manager of Indigenous relations said it’s not uncommon for a few of his non-Indigenous colleagues to come into his office to request a smudge ceremony as a stress reliever.

Some feel the need for a spiritual uplift or a mental cleansing to alleviate negative feelings. “We’re not healing the sick; we’re just healing the mind, the soul and body,” said Collins, a member of the Fort William First Nation.

DST is a consulting engineering firm specializing in environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, materials testing, and demolition. In the DST boardroom in Thunder Bay, where Collins is based, there’s a basket of small tobacco pouches to remind staff members of the custom of presenting the traditional gift when approaching a community Elder. Continue Reading →

Environmentalists fear more uranium mining near Grand Canyon may be impending – by Debra Utacia Krol (Arizona Republic – March 17, 2020)

Environmentalists and tribal leaders are gearing up to address a long-anticipated recommendation to reopen the Grand Canyon region to uranium mining.

The Nuclear Fuel Working Group, established by President Donald Trump in July 2019 to explore domestic uranium production, is expected to release its findings and recommendations soon. And those recommendations are almost certain to include increasing the domestic supply of uranium, which was named one of the U.S.’s critical minerals in 2018.

That puts uranium on the same footing with minerals like cobalt and lithium, used in the electronics industry, and rare earth elements like titanium and tin. These minerals are so designated because they are essential to the U.S. economy and, because many of these minerals are heavily imported, the supply of one or more may be disrupted, according to the American Geosciences Institute. Continue Reading →

Vale ramping down operations at Voisey’s Bay (CBC News Newfoundland-Labrador – March 17, 2020)

Safety of remote Indigenous communities top of mind, company says

Brazilian mining giant Vale is placing its Labrador nickel mine under “care and maintenance” protocols for the next four weeks amid concerns about COVID-19.

The remote mine, just south of Nain on the northern coast of Labrador, has about 900 workers on site. It is accessible only by air, and has employees from all over Canada.

No employees have tested positive for the virus, but the company said it was taking steps to keep it that way. Continue Reading →

Nunavut’s Baffinland gears up its crisis management plan for COVID-19 – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – March 16, 2020)

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. has clamped down on travel to and from its Mary River iron mine site in an effort to stave off the spread of the new coronavirus. To date, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, the company said today.

“However, given the possible risk of infection throughout the North and more specifically, our neighboring communities with whom we share the closest relationship, we are making arrangements to limit the potential exposure of our Nunavummiut (Inuit and non-Inuit in Nunavut) employees to the coronavirus,” said the company.

To do this, Baffinland said it is temporarily instructing all Nunavummiut to not report for work and to remain in their home communities.  “Nunavummiut currently at site will return home during the coming week,” Baffinland said in its release. Continue Reading →

Researcher: Uranium cleanup should be No. 1 priority – by Rima Krisst (Navajo Times – March 12, 2020)

CROWNPOINT, N.M.: “Illness due to uranium is no longer just the story of the miners. It’s the story of their children and grandchildren,” said Southwest Research and Information Center Environmental Health Specialist Chris Shuey. Shuey, who studies contaminants in the environment and their potential health effects, calls the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation an atrocity.

“Hopefully, these hearings will result in new and better policy to speed up the cleanup, fund addition health studies, and get reparations and compensation for the people,” said Shuey, who presented at a hearing in Crownpoint on a proposed Navajo Nation position statement on uranium.

Because of the shroud of secrecy and superstition surrounding uranium as a weapon of war, health studies and continuing education about the impacts did not occur as soon as they should have, he said. “Not knowing and not talking is equivalent to a death sentence because you can’t do anything about it,” said Shuey. Continue Reading →

Wet’suwet’en Band Councils Still in the Dark on Deal with Hereditary Chiefs – by Jason Unrau (The Epoch Times – March 12, 2020)

More than a week after federal and provincial ministers made a deal with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs protesting a natural gas pipeline, elected Wet’suwet’en leaders say they haven’t yet seen details of the deal, which will implement a 22-year-old Supreme Court of Canada decision over aboriginal rights and title in their region.

“We were excluded from the process,” said Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Maureen Luggi of the meetings held over three days between the hereditary chiefs and Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and her provincial B.C. counterpart Scott Fraser.

Luggi’s community is one of six Wet’suwet’en First Nations in northeastern British Columbia whose interests are entwined in both the landmark 1997 Delgamuukw decision and the Coastal GasLink pipeline, five of which have signed deals related to the $6.6 billion project. Continue Reading →

Review board grants Baffinland’s request to extend its production limit – by Emma Tranter (Nunatsiaq News – March 11, 2020)

Mining company can continue producing six million tonnes per year until end of 2021

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has granted Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s request to temporarily extend its production limit at the Mary River mine.

In a March 5 news release, Kaviq Kaluraq, the chair of the NIRB, said the mining company’s request to extend its production limit from four to six million tonnes of iron ore is granted until Dec. 31, 2021. Baffinland had requested only a one-year extension, until the end of 2020, in its letter to the NIRB, dated Dec. 19, 2019.

But in its release, NIRB said a one-year extension “would have the effect of imposing undue limits on the timelines and manner in which the board’s assessment of the phase two development proposal proceeds.” Continue Reading →

Pro-development voices not heard as activists use protests to advance own agenda: Indigenous leaders – by Tyler Dawson (National Post – March 12, 2020)

‘It’s very ironic that environmentalists are interfering in our business since they actually killed our way of life by stopping the fur trade’

EDMONTON — First Nations leaders who are pro-resource development say their voices are being drowned out by environmental activists who have co-opted a protest movement started by anti-pipeline hereditary chiefs. They’re also raising questions about who should speak for the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

“We feel like we’ve been hijacked by the protesters who have their own agenda on this,” said Theresa Tait Day, whose hereditary name is Wi’haliy’te. “They’ve used our people to advance their agenda.”

Tait Day, president of a group called the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition who was stripped of her title of hereditary chief after supporting the Coastal GasLink project, testified at a parliamentary committee in Ottawa on Tuesday. Continue Reading →

Feds bullish on nuclear: Minister visits Sask. north – by Glenn Hicks ( – March 10, 2020)

“Show me a credible plan that doesn’t involve nuclear.” That’s the strong endorsement for Saskatchewan’s uranium sector from federal Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan who has just wrapped a visit to the North.

O’Regan, who has been minister for a few months, said he wanted to acquaint himself with the world’s richest uranium mine at Cigar Lake and also visit the various northern communities who rely on mining jobs, such as Hatchet Lake, Black Lake and Fond du Lac. But he also carried with him an unequivocal message about Ottawa’s stance on nuclear as part of the route toward net-zero emissions by 2050.

“There is no way that we can reach net-zero without nuclear energy, and there is no way we can reach net-zero without the mining industry,” he told paNOW. “When we talk of a carbon-free future we often point to things like electric cars. Well, they’re built of something: they’re built with metals and minerals.” Continue Reading →

THE DRIFT 2020: Clean-tech company ready to tackle mining legacy sites – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 28, 2020)

Indigenous-owned Carbonix using wood waste residue to trap industrial contaminants

A First Nation clean technology company in northwestern Ontario believes it has a green solution to clean up contaminated environments. Carbonix, a Fort William First Nation-based firm, is developing a proprietary process to use activated carbon to treat industrial waste streams and clean up contaminated environments.

The privately owned company sees substantial opportunities surrounding abandoned mines in Ontario in supporting remediation efforts to treat tailings and acid rock drainage.

Carbonix CEO Paul Pede has high hopes 2020 will be an “inflection point” for the “nano media company” once they are able to roll out their technology across Canada, including an upcoming pilot project in Alberta to treat water and tailings in the oilsands. Continue Reading →