Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut November 28, 2011 - 2:08 pm

Rosy financial future lies ahead for NTI: Towtongie

"By 2013, we’ll be able to pay direct monetary benefits to Inuit"

SARAH ROGERS
 NTI President Cathy Towtongie says the organization’s new mining resource revenue policy will direct billions into the pockets of Nunavut’s Inuit. (FILE PHOTO)
NTI President Cathy Towtongie says the organization’s new mining resource revenue policy will direct billions into the pockets of Nunavut’s Inuit. (FILE PHOTO)

The mining industry will bring in billions for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. through its new resource revenue policy, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Cathy Towtongie said Nov. 28.

That new policy received support at NTI’s annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay last week, where delegates approved a policy saying companies must pay a minimum of $12 on every $100 as a royalty on their profits.

The policy will rake in somewhere close to $2 billion in royalties over the next few decades in what she called “very conservative estimates,” Towtongie said.

“Based on our projections, we are saying that by 2013, we’ll be able to pay direct monetary benefits to Inuit,” Towtongie told Nunatsiaq News.  “This policy is for royalties alone, it doesn’t include impact benefits agreements. And we’re not even taking into consideration oil and gas projects.”

Any revenue from oil and gas royalties will flow into a new trust to be set up by NTI and managed by a seven-person board of trustees.

Under the mining resource revenue policy, Towtongie said Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine could pay out as much as $219.3 million in royalties by 2019.

And by 2021, Baffinland’s Mary River project could produce $1.7 billion in royalties, while Newmont’s Hope Bay project would pay out $256.1 million by 2031.

The trust will be managed by seven trustees, including the NTI president, presidents of each of the regional Inuit associations and three independent financial professionals.

But details of the policy still need to be put to NTI’s membership, Towtongie said, which likely won’t happen until 2013.

If implemented as planned, those royalties could also help pay for the new traditional activity centres NTI hopes to fund in Nunavut communities.

Towtongie said delegates to NTI’s Cambridge Bay meeting said people told the organization during last week’s meeting that they need community space to practice those activities.

So NTI wants to help communities open their own centres for activities like sewing, sealskin preparation and carving.

The centres would also serve as a venue for Inuit language development, she said.

During its general meeting, the NTI delegates also discussed:

• Uranium policy: NTI has no plans to change its current policy, which says “uranium exploration and mining will be carried out in a manner that will not cause significant adverse effects on people, the environment or wildlife.”

That’s in relation to Areva Resources Canada Inc’s Kiggavik proposal, which wants to build an underground and open-pit mine about 75 kilometres west of Baker Lake.

NTI originally adopted a uranium policy in 2007, expressing conditional support for uranium mining on Inuit lands.

But the organization called for a review of that policy earlier this year, saying it needed to see “Arctic-specific regulations” before any project moved forward.

At NTI’s request, Areva is currently doing a study on mining in permafrost conditions, Towtongie said.

• NNI policy: NTI hopes to host a review Government of Nunavut’s Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuti policy with the territory’s small businesses in February 2012.

That policy sets out how the GN should comply with Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in giving preferential treatment to Inuit and Nunavut-owned businesses when awarding procurement contracts.

The NNI recently came under the spotlight when two companies decided to appeal the GN contracting decisions to the NNI appeals board.

Sudliq Developments Inc., a Coral Harbour company owned by Towtongie’s brother Louie Bruce, is appealing a government decision to hand over its fuel delivery contract to another company, and Adlair Aviation Ltd., a Cambridge Bay company, lost its appeal on the medevac contract in the Kitikmeot region to a partnership between an Inuit-owned company and a subsidiary of large southern aviation company.

“What’s the point of having policy if the actual stakeholders have no say?” Towtongie said.

• Nunavut day of prayer: Towtongie hopes to designate a day for Nunavummiut to reflect and pray. The NTI president has proposed Dec. 17 be set aside as Nunavut Day of Prayer, where the territories’ churches open their doors to the public to take “time to remember lost loved ones.”

“Each one of us needs a day to spend privately with our maker,” she said.

NTI’s annual general meeting wrapped up in Cambridge Bay Nov. 25.

The organization will meet next October in Iqaluit.

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