Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik March 23, 2011 - 4:29 am

Nunavik Nickel mine looks to 2012 start-up

Permitting could slow down the timetable for region's second mine

SARAH ROGERS
This a computer-generated image showing how the Nunavik Nickel mine site might look after it’s constructed by 2012. (FILE IMAGE)
This a computer-generated image showing how the Nunavik Nickel mine site might look after it’s constructed by 2012. (FILE IMAGE)

If Nunavik’s second mine project gets the go-ahead to build a port and other docking facilities at Deception Bay near Salluit this spring, the Nunavik Nickel mine should be in production for 2012.

To move ahead with the construction of the port facilities, Canadian Royalties needs Environment Canada to issue a permit that will allow the dumping of 35,000 cubic metres of dredged material offshore.

This material will consist of organic matter scooped out in order to level the seabed for the dock, Canadian Royalties’ environmental engineer Gail Amyot told Nunatsiaq News.

When Canadian Royalties receives the federal permit, workers will move ahead with the dredging and then load all the dredged material on to a barge for dumping about 700 metres offshore.

The Nunavik Nickel mine, located 20 kilometres south of Xstrata’s Raglan nickel mine, still hopes to be in operation by 2012, Amyot said.

Environment Canada already approved a permit for the disposal of this dredged material in 2008, Amyot said.

But that permit expired last month.

Canadian Royalties never acted on it because plans to develop the nickel mine came to a halt in 2008 due to legal disputes and the global recession.

Then, in 2009, Jien Canada Mining Ltd. acquired the Nunavik Nickel project from Canadian Royalties, when Chinese interests were taking advantage of low metal prices by going bargain hunting for financially-troubled Western mining assets.

Jien Canada Mining Ltd. acquired 75 per cent of the company’s project shares, while 25 per cent of the shares are owned by Vancouver-based Goldbrook Ventures.

But now that relationship appears to be stained.

Last year, Goldbrook said its Chinese partners violated their partnership deal and started arbitration proceedings against the parent company of Jien Mining.

Arbitration between Goldbrook and Jien over the original breakdown of shares is ongoing.

Brian Grant, president of Goldbrook Ventures,  said he couldn’t comment on the arbitration but that there is “a lot of money at stake.”

And there’s even more recent dispute – now also in arbitration – which stems from Jien claiming to be the operator of a separate joint venture agreement on a property surrounding the Canadian Royalities’s nickel property.

For now, Jien and Goldbrook are still working together through Canadian Royalties on the nickel mine project.

After a complete shut-down for two years, operations resumed in 2010, with the construction of a bridge over Lake Bombardier, a few kilometres east of the mill and mine site.

The lake was dammed to create a water reservoir for the mine.

Construction teams also built a road to link the site with nearby Xstrata’s mine site. This road means the Nunavik Nickel mine can now share the Donaldson airstrip facilities there.

In 2008, the Kativik Enviromental Quality Commission issued its own permit for Nunavik Nickel’s mining activities — and that one hasn’t expired.

One of the commission’s final recommendations said that a single airstrip should serve the Nunavik Nickel mine and Xstrata’s Raglan mine.

Although the airstrip deal has yet to be finalized, Nunavik Nickel has been flying staff and supplies to and from the site over the last few months instead of using a gravel strip with a much lower capacity.

Canadian Royalties just completed an information tour to Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq to update the communities on the mine’s development.

The project continues to look for employees in the region, with some openings for Kangiqsujuaq residents.

More than 200 people are expected to be employed at the Nunavik Nickel site this summer.

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