The Government of Canada could still be a few months away from determining whether a national security review will be required before a Chinese state-owned gold miner can buy out TMAC Resources and thereby assume operational control of the Hope Bay property.

Operational control of the Hope Bay property in the Kitikmeot hasn’t yet been granted to Chinese company Shandong Gold Mining as the federal government ponders whether a national security review will be required first. photo courtesy of TMAC Resources

“There’s an analysis that’s being done now on that, an independent review through the Investment Canada Act. That review is ongoing,” Vandal said. “It’s too early to tell right now. We know that it’s difficult at the best of times. It’s even more difficult to sign off on something like that during a pandemic.”

The Kitikmeot Inuit Association still hasn’t made its position on the matter publicly known.

“As we have been saying to all media, we have no comment at this time while the Investment Canada process is underway,” said Fred Pedersen, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s acting executive director on Aug. 17.

The Inuit association is a minority shareholder in TMAC and has a Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement in relation to Hope Bay, outlining a royalty, job commitments, environmental standards and other measures.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry has stated that the federal government will determine whether a national security review is required by Oct. 19. TMAC Resources is expecting the transaction to close by the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.

“The sale transaction will position Hope Bay for the next phase of operational improvement and capital investment required to generate a robust and long-life operation,” Jason Neal, TMAC’s CEO, stated.

TMAC shareholders voted 97.1 per cent in favour of the sale to Shandong Gold Mining at a special meeting on June 26.

Adam Lajeunesse, co-author of the 2017 book China’s Arctic Ambitions and What They Mean for Canada, previously told Nunavut News that China represents a “fairly totalitarian, communist dictatorship that does have legal rights and control over its companies… China’s made no secret of its intention to become a regional power and a global power, particularly under (Chinese leader) Xi Jinping.”

However, Lajeunesse also acknowledged that the federal government “is facing significant pressures to bring investment into the Arctic.”

Staffing cuts

The Doris North mine, like Nunavut’s other operating projects, has been running at reduced levels during the pandemic. This has resulted in a reduction of the workforce. At the end of the second quarter, the company had approximately 140 people at its Hope Bay camp, which can accommodate 345 people.

TMAC produced 28,970 ounces of gold during the second quarter and anticipates reaching 95,000-100,000 ounces for the full year.

The company realized $25.4-million in positive cash flow before accounting for working capital in the second quarter. It reported earnings of 13 cents per share. TMAC finished the period with $45.6 million in cash and $168.6 million in current debt.

“We expect that the operations will be able to continue at reduced levels and generate sufficient cash flow to cover expenditures for at least the remainder of the year,” Neal said.

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