Nunavut Resources Corp. juggles promising projects
Creation of a "major investments fund" is in the works
CAMBRIDGE BAY — What happens between now and Christmas will be critical for the Nunavut Resources Corp., the first Inuit-owned mining development company.
But if a series of NRC agreements, now in the works, move ahead as planned, the future for the NRC looks “hopeful,” Charlie Evalik, the president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, and chairman of the NRC, said Oct. 19 at the KIA annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay.
This NRC, formally set up late in 2009, plans to invest in gas, oil or mineral projects and bring them into production.
Evalik’s vision for the NRC is to build infrastructure for mining companies, offering more employment, training and business opportunities to Kitikmeot Inuit — and also start exploring Inuit-owned lands on its own.
NRC received $75,000 in August from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to “model and plan a major investments fund,” Evalik said.
The fund would give the NRC the money it needs to make equity investments in projects — with its goal being the development of a $3-million fund.
To date, NRC’s progress has hinged on the mining sector in the Kitikmeot, where several major exploration projects like Newmont’s Hope Bay gold mine project are moving rapidly ahead.
Pamela Strand, president of Shear Diamonds Ltd., and Evalik announced that Shear and the NRC had signed a “mutual cooperation agreement”— NRC’s first — last February.
That 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 in August of 2010.
The NRC also announced a deal with Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. last March which said they would work together on infrastructure development in the Kitikmeot.
But Shear Diamonds Ltd. remains in the permitting and development stage, while Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. announced last June that it planned to sell off its Hackett River silver properties to Xstrata, the world’s largest zinc producer — a deal that also required re-negotiating land use and other agreements with the KIA.
These deals between the KIA and Sabina have now been settled.
Sabina and the KIA announced Oct. 4 that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to create a development trust, which will see Sabina pay about $1.4 million to an existing KIA fund that supports development and community initiatives in the Kitikmeot.
In its deal with the NRC, Sabina said it would give the group up to $2 million as “seed funding” to develop a work plan for joint infrastructure projects in the Kitikmeot.
With Xstrata in the picture, this deal, which is still on the table, could lead to a modified, scaled-down version of Bathurst Inlet port and road project or a better airstrip so that Sabina can get its gold-rich deposits into production more quickly and economically.
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.
The NRC is talking to OmniTRAX, a company that manages Quality Terminal Services, which operates intermodal terminal facilities at seaports and inland ports – to provide associated switching, storage, loading and unloading, handling and maintenance services, Evalik said.
The NRC is also working with Newmont, who re-approached the group recently about the possibility of “establishing a broadband installation,” he said.
This could see a chain of microwave towers stretching up from the south to Newmont’s expanding complex at the Doris North deposit.
The NRC is also close to forging an alliance with the Ontario-based HTXMinerals which would see the creation of a new publicly-traded company to carry out development in the Kitikmeot region.
To date, NRC’s hope for the future mainly affect the Kitikmeot region, Evalik said, although the NRC is still seeking alliances with other Inuit regional organizations.