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Challenges and prosperity coming to Kivalliq

Looking back at 2018 with hopes of a successful year waiting ahead in 2019; a bright economic outlook for the foreseeable future in the Kivalliq comes courtesy of Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM).As AEM's initial Meadowbank open-pit mine, located 110 kilometres north of Baker Lake by road, nears the end of its mining life, development work on the Amaruq satellite deposit at Meadowbank began when its necessary permits were received in July of 2018.
Operations are expected to start at Amaruq during the third quarter of 2019, with the additional production stemming from an extension of the mine plan at the Vault and Phaser pits in 2018, and the Portage pit in 2018 and 2019 being supplemented from stockpiles during the same two-year period.
With 483 employees as of November of 2018 and construction being 89 per cent completed by the end of the third quarter, AEM's open-pit and underground Meliadine gold project, located about 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet, is set to begin production in 2019 with its process plant scheduled to begin during the second quarter.
Meliadine represents AEM's largest gold deposit in terms of mineral resources.
2018 saw former Nunavut premier Paul Quassa ousted by a non-confidence vote on June 14, and Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq selected by members of the Nunavut Legislature to replace him.
Savikataaq came out ahead of Rankin Inlet's Lorne Kusugak in the second round of voting to become the first Nunavut premier to hail from the Kivalliq region.
Quassa's ousting after just seven months in office marked the first time a Nunavut premier lost a non-confidence vote.
A perceived lack of leadership, and questions surrounding the role of the Government of Nunavut (GN) at February's 2018 Northern Lights trade conference in Ottawa that saw the GN spend more than $500,000, were two of the main reasons that led to the chair of the regular members' caucus, John Main, of Arviat tabling the motion for the non-confidence vote.
Upon being named as Nunavut's new premier, Savikataaq cited improving both mental-health and elder's care in the territory as two of his top priorities moving forward.
Savikataaq also said it was time to identify and tackle the root causes that see Nunavut with the highest per capita crime rate and the highest sexual assault rate.
The new premier also expressed, at the time, his desire to see the GN build a new addiction treatment and trauma-counselling centre during the 42 months remaining in his term.
2018 came to a close with traditional Inuit knowledge and Western science clashing once again with the GN's November release of a draft management plan for polar bears during public consultations in Iqaluit.
The plan was four years in the making and called for Inuit knowledge to play a far more important role in bear management, claiming the bears are adapting to climate change and their increasing numbers are putting the public at risk.
The deaths of Arviat's Aaron Gibbons and Naujaat's Darryl Kaunak earlier in 2018 were the first polar bear attack deaths in Nunavut during the past 18 years.
All in all, equal parts of prosperity and challenges await the territory in 2019, and the Kivalliq in particular, as we begin walking the path of a brand-new year.