Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut February 14, 2011 - 10:44 am

Inuit-owned mining firm signs first deal for Jericho

"This alliance has the potential to maximize mutual benefits"

JANE GEORGE
The Nunavut Resources Corp. and Shear Diamonds Ltd. will work together to develop infrastructure and other opportunities associated with the “potential re-development” of the Jericho diamond mine. (FILE PHOTO)
The Nunavut Resources Corp. and Shear Diamonds Ltd. will work together to develop infrastructure and other opportunities associated with the “potential re-development” of the Jericho diamond mine. (FILE PHOTO)

CAMBRIDGE BAY— The Nunavut Resources Corp., the first Inuit-owned mining development company, has signed its first deal with a mining company.

Pamela Strand, president of Shear Diamonds Ltd. and Charlie Evalik, president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and NRC chairman, announced Feb. 14 that they’ve signed a “mutual cooperation agreement.”

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

“We are delighted to formalize our growing cooperation with the NRC, through a document that defines Shear’s partnership with the Nunavut Resources Corporation,” Strand said in the Feb. 14 release. “In signing this document, we at Shear are excited to demonstrate our commitment to being an active corporate citizen within the Nunavut community. This alliance has the potential to maximize mutual benefits at the Jericho Diamond Mine or wherever Shear operates in Nunavut.”

The deal is a “stepping stone” to more agreements in the future between the NRC and Shear, Evalik told Nunatsiaq News Feb. 14— and a preview of what the NRC wants to do in the Kitikmeot region.

The NRC wants to boost Inuit participation and ownership in Nunavut’s major resource developments, such as the Jericho mine, through investments of money or through the development of infrastructure to support projects.

By means of the NRC, the KIA wants to position itself to become “a significant player” in managing and developing non-renewable resources on its Inuit-owned lands, Evalik told last October’s KIA annual general meeting.

Inuit economic self-determination depends on the ability to own and control resource development, he told the gathering.

“What KIA has come to realize is that Inuit are at risk of becoming the last people to benefit from resource development on their own lands,” Evalik said.

The NRC is also intended to enhance business, employment and training opportunities for Nunavummiut.

But the NRC would receive more than handouts of money, jobs and contracts: Inuit would have direct decision-making input, Evalik said, emphasizing this represents the “next stage” for Inuit control over their lands and future.

The NRC will also a base for financial and investment managers to work together with Inuit and secure an Inuit voice at the senior corporate level, the news release notes.

Several high-powered names are on the NRC’s board, such as David Elliott from Haywood Securities Inc., and a former vice-president of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, Scott Northey.

Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed is a special advisor to the NRC board.

The Jericho mine is located 420 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

From 2006 to 2008, the mine produced 780,000 carats of diamonds from 1.2 million tonnes of kimberlite mined from its open pit operation.

More than $200 million was invested in the development of the Jericho operations including the construction of a 2,000 tonne per day diamond recovery plant, maintenance facility, fuel farm, offices and a living complex for 225 workers.

Shear, a Canadian diamond exploration company, is involved in eight diamond projects, including three advanced projects with development potential, the Feb. 14 news release says.

Shear holds a 100 per cent interest in Jericho.

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