Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 23, 2011 - 11:01 am

Inuit-owned mining firm signs second deal

Nunavut Resources Corp., Sabina Gold and Silver to collaborate on infrastructure

JANE GEORGE
This photo taken this year at the Goose property south of Bathurst Inlet shows the rugged conditions of the airstrip used by Sabina Gold and Silver to bring in the supplies they need for exploration. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SABINA)
This photo taken this year at the Goose property south of Bathurst Inlet shows the rugged conditions of the airstrip used by Sabina Gold and Silver to bring in the supplies they need for exploration. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SABINA)

The Nunavut Resources Corp., the first Inuit-owned mining development company, and Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. announced March 23 they will work together on infrastructure development in the Kitikmeot.

The NRC wants to boost Inuit participation and ownership in Nunavut’s major resource developments, such as Sabina’s gold and silver projects at Hackett River, through investments of money or through the development of infrastructure to support projects.

“It is no secret that lack of infrastructure and access in the Arctic are challenges for large deposits such as Hackett River,” said Tony Walsh, president and chief executive officer of Sabina, in a news release.

“Working together with NRC provides Sabina with Inuit support and influence, opportunities for access to potential news sources for private and federal funding and opportunities for win/win investments for both Inuit and industry in Nunavut. We believe the MOU will initiate a process which will pave the way for a more formal relationship to evaluate, finance, develop and own regional infrastructure that supports not only the Hackett River project but other resource projects in the Kitikmeot Region.”

Sabina’s Hackett, Wishbone and Goose properties, where the company plans to spend $47 million in 2011, have an immediate need for better infrastructure.

Their deposits are loaded with silver, gold and precious metals, but even to do exploration like diamond drilling requires tonnes of salt.

Only small aircraft can land on a short ice runway at the Goose property, about 100 kilometres south of Bathurst Inlet — basically the only way to bring in supplies or ship anything out.

Sabina had pinned its hopes on the development of the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road facility, known as BIPAR, to help provide its projects with supplies and infrastructure and lower the capital costs.

The $270-plus million BIPAR project, talked about for years, was to have included the construction of a dock and a 211-km road to Conwoyto Lake that would pass about 100 km from the proposed Hackett River mine site — but the project is now at a standstill.

In its deal with the NRC, Sabina’s will give the group up to $2 million as “seed funding” to develop a work plan for joint infrastructure projects in the Kitikmeot.

The deal could lead to a modified, scaled-down version of BIPAR or simply to a better airstrip so that Sabina can get its gold-rich deposits into production more quickly and economically.

“This NRC-Sabina MOU is an important precedent in the Kitikmeot that sets the stage for future co-development initiatives involving infrastructure development and potential joint investments by the NRC, with Nunavut’s resource companies,” said Charlie Evalik, chairman of the NRC, in the March 23 release.

Evalik said that the deal with Sabina confirms “our belief that the NRC can act jointly with investors to achieve mutual benefits in furthering environmentally and economically sound regional developments with the active participation of Inuit.”

Earlier this year, Pamela Strand, president of Shear Diamonds Ltd. and Evalik announced that Shear and the NRC had signed a “mutual cooperation agreement”— NRC’s first.

The deal set out ways the two will work together to develop infrastructure and other opportunities associated with the “potential re-development” of the Jericho diamond mine, 420 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, which Shear took over last August.

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