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Gold exploration heats up in the Kivalliq

This map shows one gold-producing mine and numerous other gold-exploration sites in the Kivalliq region as of 2016. - photo courtesy of GN, INAC, and NTI

A modern-day gold rush is quietly taking place in the Kivalliq, and specifically around Rankin Inlet, with a new exploration and development company scheduled to meet residents next week.

Vancouver-based NxGold Ltd. announced plans April 26 for exploration at its Kuulu Project site during the 2017 summer field season. The company announced in October 2016 that it had entered into an earn-in agreement with Meliadine Gold Ltd.

"NxGold has been engaging with the Kivalliq Inuit Association on an ongoing basis since mid-January, concurrent with the start of program planning," said vice-president of corporate development Travis McPherson, adding the company is "absolutely committed to the region and all the stakeholders."

A community engagement session is scheduled for May 8 at 7 p.m. at the Turaarvik Hotel.

Kuulu, located 40 km northwest of Rankin, next to Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.'s advanced-stage Meliadine gold project, was previously named the Peter Lake Gold Project. Agnico also holds claims at Peter Lake, as well as Parker and Fox Lakes.

Agnico Eagle spokesperson Dale Coffin said the company has not invested much money in its Peter Lake property.

"We have done very early stage grassroots work – collecting samples and prospecting work," Coffin said.

In September 2016, Montego Resources Inc. announced it had acquired the Kiyuk Lake Property, with multiple gold showings which extend over a distance of 15 km, 350 km west of Arviat.

Meanwhile, NxGold is winding its way through Nunavut's regulatory system.

"NxGold has existing access to Inuit-owned land through two current land-use licences issued by the Kivalliq Inuit Association. The NIRB (Nunavut Impact Review Board) is currently screening NxGold’s application," McPherson said.

On April 25, the NIRB issued NxGold’s application to parties for review and comment. Comments are due to NIRB May 16, after which NxGold will respond and the NIRB will issue a screening decision report.
The plan after receiving the report is to enter into the water-licensing process with the Nunavut Water Board.

Not everyone in Rankin Inlet is thrilled at the prospect of more exploration and mining activity at or near lakes long held dear. Inuit fish at these lakes and some Rankin residents have cabins in the area.

"People used to love fishing in Meliadine Lake. Not so much anymore. We are very sensitive to the lake being used by humans. Human waste and industrial garbage," said one resident who requested anonymity.

"Once they start using Peter Lake as a camp, we will refuse to take fish from there for consumption. Also, Diane Lake. Diane Lake has been our source for char forever. Peter Lake flows to Diane Lake."

Some say exploration may lead to even more jobs for Inuit down the road.

Rankin residents will have the opportunity to speak with NxGold representatives about their proposed Kuulu project, and public comments to NIRB are due May 16.