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Arctic Bay eyes Nanisivik legacy

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Arctic Bay (Dec 10/01) - When the workers emerge from Nanisivik Mine for the last time next September, they will shut down a wealth of infrastructure resources used by residents of Arctic Bay.

The mine, with its heavy cargo and trafficking demands, built a number of facilities that became important to residents. Among them are The Dome restaurant, a swimming pool, tank farm, deep-sea port and an airport that can handle jets.

Connected by a 30-kilometre stretch of highway, all are accessible by residents in Arctic Bay.

"People used to go for the recreational facilities, and they're going to severely miss some of those social aspects, even more so than the employment," said Arctic Bay's senior administrator, Cecil Marshall.

In theory, the hamlet could buy some of the mine's legacies, or at keep them operating. Something also needs to be done with the deep-sea port. Currently, Coast Guard vessels take goods from vessels docked at Nanisivik to three nearby communities, including Arctic Bay.

"We're talking to the mine as well as the government, but it's too early to really say what is going to take place," said Marshall.

At Nanisivik, general manager Bill Heath said he's not sure what will happen. He said the equipment may be sold to a bulk reseller, relieving the company of the hassle of selling each piece individually.

But that says nothing about the school, the library, the houses, offices and warehouses at the site.

"The easy answer for the time being at least is we just don't know," said Heath. "Given that we've only fairly recently announced the closure of the mine, it's still fairly preliminary, so we're just out there beating the bushes."

Heath said obvious buyers would be the federal or territorial governments.

For now, the mine is at full production with 185 employees. "Nothing's been sold, we're still focused right now on maximizing production from the mine," he said.

Although that will soon change, Heath said he hopes Nanisivik does not become a ghost town. "The next chapter in Nanisivik's life hasn't been written yet, but we sure as heck hope it's something," he said.