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Hilary Bartlett
Professor Gladdale Huebert
Arch/Hist 1005
12 June 2022
Midgley, S. (2015). Contesting closure: Science, politics, and community responses to closing
the Nanisivik mine, Nunavut. In Keeling, A. & Sandlos, J. (Eds.), Mining and communities
in northern Canada: history, politics, and Canada (pp. 293-314). University of Calgary
Press. Retrieved from
The Nanisivik mine in Nunavut, a pilot project partially financed by the federal
government which operated for 26 years closed in 2002. Upon closing a process occurred that
redefined the scholarly idea of a “mining imaginary,” which indicates that mining has a
definitive start followed by a specific endpoint whereby there is ecological distress to the area.
By examining the responses of the community, the government of Nunavut, and the CanZinco
mining company in turn, a different understanding of the lifespan of a mine and the mining
community can be established. Nanisivik had a dual purpose of testing the High Arctic as a
feasible mining project and the social project of extending an alternative way of life to an Inuit
community. The statistics indicate that certain goals of this pilot project, such as maintaining a
60% Inuit people quota on staff, were not met, as the typical percentage hovered between
20-25%. Upon closure, the “polluter pays” principle applied, which was why a value needed to
be inscribed to Nanisivik as a security bond. CanZinco and the government of Nunavut each
employed their own scientific experts to ensure meticulous and precise data was collected. The
depth of an engineered tailings cover, needed to protect the community’s water supply, was a
topic of debate. The scientific data collection resulted in determining the final cost of
reclamation as well as legitimising the use of scientific data in making decisions such as these
moving forward. A 1.25m depth was agreed upon to be appropriate for the tailings cover with the
security bond, indicating the value of Nanisivik, set at 17.6 million dollars. This was finalised in
2004, two years after the closure of the mine. Reclamation activities continued until 2008 at
which time the bond was reduced to two million dollars.