In the upper reaches of Canada’s Nunavut province, the Inuit of Hope Bay anxiously await their gold mine’s fate. Shandong Gold (SD Gold), a Chinese state-owned mining megacorporation, has arranged to purchase Hope Bay gold mine.
The owner of Hope Bay mine, Toronto’s TMAC Resources, is selling off the development intensive project at a premium. Though Canada boasts five of the ‘Big 10’ companies, Hope Bay and Nunavut are unique in that they employ primarily indigenous workers. In fact, they’re obligated by Canadian law to meet certain indigenous employment and compensation requirements.
In spite of this, the sale has not received approval from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association. Though not legally necessary, approval is of symbolic importance. Transferring mine ownership outside of Canadian hands may lead to complications in far-off courts with international tribunes.
Are China’s interests in the Arctic benign?
Though some ‘experts’ claim China’s interests are purely commercial, Hope Bay would be yet another link in their ‘Polar Silk Road’. Its position along the Northwest Passage is invaluable for Arctic power projection. Given other recent PRC acquisitions, it is unrealistic to separate commercial interests from geostrategic influence. Money is power, after all.
Rylund Johnson, independent legislative representative of Yellowknife North, has called on Canada’s federal government to block the sale. In a statement, Johnson had this to say:
“If Canada had real economic development corporations and gave the North’s indigenous development corporations meaningful capital, then we could actually own some of our own resources as a country … As it is set up right now, China will keep stepping in when Canada fails to invest in its own development.”
A familiar story. Where Arctic nations fail to provide for their own people, or steward their own resources, the People’s Republic fills the gap. Cash for corporations, and polar power projection for China.
Canada must defend its sovereignty and citizenry: reject the acquisition of Hope Bay.