Mining development in the Canadian Arctic is commonly portrayed as a source of jobs and development for Northern communities. Yet its broader impacts on community well-being, especially after mine closure, remain understudied. This article presents post-mining scenarios as envisioned by the Inuit community of Qamini'tuaq (Baker Lake), 3 years before the Meadowbank gold mine's anticipated closure. Study participants rated mine closure impacts on the “Well-Being Wheel”, an evaluation tool co-designed with the authors and featuring five axes: Family Life, Jobs, Food Independence, Health and Learning (all closely tied to caribou-based subsistence lifestyles). Participants also explored best-case and worst-case outcomes. All scenarios highlighted far-reaching impacts on diverse aspects of Inuit well-being. A pessimistic scenario signified a sudden surge in unemployment, with stresses on mental health, family life and food security. An optimistic scenario promised new business development, social service support, and the resurgence of caribou herds. We conclude that in Qamini’tuaq, mining has failed to produce lasting “social and economic development” when we consider its holistic impacts on well-being and subsistence lifestyles. Yet participatory scenario construction may foster effective cross-sector collaboration in anticipation of mine closure. We recommend the strengthening of essential social services and local caribou livelihoods as a strategy to improve post-mining outcomes.
Rixen, A. & Blangy, S. (2016). Life after Meadowbank: Exploring gold mine closure scenarios with the residents of Qamini’tuaq (Baker Lake), Nunavut. The Extractive Industries and Society, 3, 297–312. doi: 10.1016/j.exis.2015.09.003