Hello subscriber! I know I normally only show up in your inbox on Friday afternoons but I just wanted to let you know about our new Up Here Business newsletter, The Bottom Line.

Twice monthly, UHB editor Cooper Langford will condense and analyze the economic news happening across the North. Below is the first edition for you to enjoy. It's all the insight and analysis you expect from Up Here Business, but now in email form. 

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—Jacob Boon
January 11, 2020
Hi everyone. Welcome to our first edition of The Bottom Line—our business newsletter. In this bi-weekly edition, we'll be discussing top business stories happening around the Arctic—both in northern Canada and abroad.

Thanks for reading,
Cooper Langford
Editor, Up Here Business
Subscribe to Up Here Business for $24.99
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Picking the top news story from the past couple of weeks is a no-brainer. It’s Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.’s purchase of struggling TMAC Resources Ltd. for a tidy $286 million, and an end to uncertainty over the fate of TMAC’s Hope Bay gold project. The mine is a vital employer and source of contracts in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region, not to mention royalties to the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
The deal, which puts Hope Bay in the hands of a seasoned Arctic mine operator, also closes the book on thorny issues raised by an earlier bid for TMAC from Shandong Gold, a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Ottawa put the boot to that deal in December—the lone offer, at the time, that would have saved Hope Bay—calling Shandong’s ownership a national security risk. Whether or not it was is debatable. Experts have called Shandong’s interest a simple matter of a gold producer looking for a profitable deal. Nothing more. Others have argued the deal would have given China a toehold on the Northwest Passage, posing a threat to Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.
Buried in the back and forth, however, is a more pointed question: Why was Shandong the only bidder to step up when TMAC put itself on the market in the early months of 2020? Gold prices were already strong (and about to get a lot stronger). And Hope Bay is a highly prospective property with much gold still to be discovered.
Yet every Canadian firm took a pass, as did everyone else. This points to the inadequacy of Canada’s national policy toward the Arctic and massive infrastructure gaps around energy, transportation, communications and training that suffocate economic development. If we had more firm federal commitments, there’s a good chance we would have seen more offers for TMAC in the first place. We might not have found ourselves facing a hard choice between permitting a politically challenging business deal and strangling an important contributor to the northern economy.
In recent media reports, Agnico Eagle CEO Sean Boyd has said his firm did not make an initial bid as it was busy with start-up issues around its Meliadine and Amaruq gold projects, also in Nunavut. The timing is now much better, he said. Boyd also noted that Ottawa is starting to take a more focused stance on Arctic development, which played into Agnico Eagle’s decision to buy Hope Bay. Let’s hope so. It’s many decades overdue.
The average percentage by which NWT and Nunavut construction firms could grow their workforces—if not for the current labour shortage, according to an NWT & Nunavut Construction Association membership survey.

Yukon's Government Promotes First Nations Business With New Procurement Policy
Companies owned by members of Yukon First Nations will be eligible for discounts on the value of their bids for government contracts under a new territorial procurement policy that aims to support Indigenous business. The value of the discounts will depend on the percentage of Yukon First Nation ownership in the business. The new policy will also favour bids from companies that commit to hiring and training First Nations people and support greater community engagement and benefits. (
Yukon News)
Amazon Promises Faster Service For Iqaluit Residents
Amazon delivered an early Christmas gift to Iqaluit customers in mid-December, promising to cut delivery times to five days or less from two to three weeks. The secret in the new service? A contract with Canadian North to have dedicated space for cargo on two flights per week between Ottawa and the Nunavut capital, and the opening of a new pickup depot for Amazon customers near Iqaluit’s airport. Expect the depot to be a busy place. Local officials estimate Amazon shipped 200,000 parcels to Iqaluit in 2019 alone. (
Steady As She Goes…
Moody’s Investors Service gave the NWT government a passing grade this fall, maintaining the territory’s credit rating at Aa1 following a periodic review. While not the highest rating available, the score says Moody’s considers the government is a high-quality borrower and a low credit risk. (
Yahoo Finance)
Whitehorse Approves New Capital Budget
Energy efficiency projects, new buses and construction of a new fire hall are leading items in the City of Whitehorse’s latest capital budget, which city council passed in mid-December. The total spending plan, in effect until the end of 2024, is valued at $52.4 million, about 60 per cent of which is currently funded, according to local media reports. The city says it will spend about $9 million from its own reserves on the plan with the balance coming from other sources, such as federal gas tax and infrastructure funding. (
Keith Byram: Founder of Pelly Construction and long-time community supporter, Keith Byram was inducted this past December into the Order of the Yukon. Byram moved to the territory in the 1970s for a federal government job, but soon left to start his company. Since its founding, Pelly Construction has distinguished itself as a go-to firm for infrastructure projects including work at several major mines and the construction of hundreds of kilometres of road in the Yukon, NWT, Alaska and British Columbia.
Steve Loutitt: A 25-year veteran of the NWT government, Steve Loutitt was appointed the territory’s deputy minister of infrastructure just before Christmas. Loutitt had been serving as assistant deputy minister of infrastructure before his promotion. His career with territorial government started in 1995, when he was hired as regional manager for the Yellowknife airport and four community airports. From there, he went on to progressively senior roles in the infrastructure and transportation departments.



“We simply cannot continue to rely on transfer payments from Ottawa on the one hand, while boasting a culture of self-determination on the other.”

—Yukon Chamber of Mines president Ed Peart, writing in the Yukon News. His commentary was a response to an earlier op-ed piece by leading local conservationists, who challenged the ultimate value of the mining industry, under its current policy regime, to the territory’s long-term well-being. (Yukon News)


In December, the federal government denied Shandong Gold’s bid to buy TMAC Resources, owner and operator of the Hope Bay gold project in Nunavut. Shandong is a Chinese state-owned enterprise, and Ottawa deemed the proposed sale a national security risk. Should Canada be cautious about selling its northern mineral assets to foreign powers?

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