The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines is hailing $1.5-million in relief measures for Nunavut’s minerals sector.
The federal government has extended the time limit to pay rent on mineral leases by up to six months for mineral leases under the regulations that become due between March 13 and Oct. 29. This measure only applies to mineral leases on Crown lands in Nunavut under the Nunavut Mining Regulations.
The extension allows mineral lease holders to avoid default for unpaid rent due to the pandemic.
In addition, the Government of Canada has also amended the Nunavut Mining Regulations to waive, for one year, the payment of annual rent on mineral leases due between March 13-March 12, 2021.
As a stipulation, mining companies must make a request in writing to the department. Also, any rent paid before the amendment takes effect is waived in the following year.
“Perhaps the most important part of the minister’s announcement is the message sent by the federal government recognizing that the minerals industry is essential to the economic well-being of the North and is a valued contributor to Nunavut’s private sector economy,” said Ken Armstrong, president of the Chamber of Mines.
The move was made through the Covid-19 Economic Response Plan, which is intended to protect jobs during the global pandemic.
Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal said he had discussions with various mine owners and the Chamber of Mines prior to putting these measures in place.
“We know that they’ve gone through a very difficult time, as has the whole economy. But in the North, the mining industry is very important,” said Vandal. “We know… they’ve done a lot of very good, proactive things in terms of enhanced (Covid) testing for their workers, in terms of sending their Inuit workers at their mines home with pay – maybe not 100 per cent but some pay, which was very good – (and) trying to keep the infections out, the virus away from Nunavut.”
Vandal added that additional funding help for Nunavut’s mining and exploration industry is not out of the question.
“We are continuing our talks,” he said. “We are not out of this pandemic yet, unfortunately, but we hope that the end is in site. We’re going to continue to talk to the industry and talk to the leadership of Nunavut, both (the territorial) government and the Inuit leadership.”