Nunavut government may support TMAC-SD Gold sale, but with conditions

Nunavut wants to see commitment to respect previous agreements with Inuit.

By Jane George, Nunatsiaq News - September 28, 2020
Nunavut’s economic development minister, David Akeeagok, listens on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the legislative assembly to questions from Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak about the proposed sale of TMAC Resources Inc. to Shandong Gold Mining Co. Ltd. (Dustin Patar / Nunatsiaq News)

The Nunavut government has made a submission to federal reviewers now looking at the proposed sale of TMAC Resources Inc. to the Chinese-owned Shandong Gold Mining Co. Ltd.

But, speaking on last week in the Nunavut legislature, Economic Development Minister David Akeeagok would not say whether the Government of Nunavut supported the proposed sale in its submission to the federal reviewers.

In response to questions from Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak, he said he did not want to comment more because the federal government is still in the middle of its review process.

But Akeeagok did say any GN support would be contingent on SD Gold honoring the terms and conditions that are part of the previous environmental reviews and agreements with Inuit on jobs, training and other benefits.

Akeeagok said he had spoken to the Stanley Anablak, the president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, about the proposed sale when this first came up in June.

Akeeagok said he supported the KIA’s efforts to ensure any proposed sale of TMAC would come with “clear and informed” commitments on Inuit employment and training and environmental protection.

But the GN and KIA did not prepare a joint submission to the federal reviewers, Akeeagok said, adding that he had not planned to table the GN submission during the current sitting.

The KIA, which represents Inuit in western Nunavut’s five communities, has not said whether or not it gave the federal agency a positive recommendation for the sale.

A Chinese gold-mining company wants to buy TMAC Resources Inc., which owns the Hope Bay goldfield, located 150 kilometers southwest of Cambridge Bay. A review by Investment Canada is now underway. (Nunatsiaq News file image)

Under the Investment Canada Act, the government is looking at whether the deal with SD Gold is likely to increase employment in Canada, as well as its economic and other impacts.

The Investment Canada Act also allows Ottawa to review a transaction for national security reasons.

The minister of innovation, science and industry, Navdeep Bains, has extended the timeline to determine whether to start a national security review until Oct. 19.

Some hurdles have been cleared. On June 30, TMAC received a final order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approving the sale to SD Gold.

But until the government completes the federal review, which could be as late as Feb. 8, 2021, the sale, approved by 97 percent of TMAC’s shareholders at a special meeting held in June, remains uncertain.