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Doubling capacity

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (May 25/05) - The hamlet of Rankin Inlet is calling upon the Government of Nunavut (GN) to step up its efforts to meet the increasing fuel needs of both the community and the resource industry.

Gord Davidson displays the Sustainable Development award presented to Cumberland Resources Ltd. during the 2005 Nunavut Mining Symposium in Rankin Inlet. The hamlet would like to see more of an effort made to meet the fuel needs of mining companies.

Rankin SAO John Hodgson said the community's growth is beyond the GN's ability to supply fuel.

He said council's primary focus is to ensure the community has enough fuel to supply local residents and businesses on an annual basis.

"Another problem is the Petroleum Products Division (PPD) does not incorporate the needs of the mining industry into its planning," said Hodgson.

"Fuel is the biggest cost to mining companies.

"If we have the fuel these companies need barged in and ready for use, that might tip the balance in our favour when they're deciding whether to open a mine."

Hodgson said it's widely believed the hamlet's growth capacity is larger than what the PPD projects.

He said PPD projections show Rankin reaching a population of about 2,600 in the year 2010, when most in the community say the hamlet is at that number now.

"We view the PPD's projections as being a bit light and there's no factor in there for the resource industry.

"And that demand is not going to go away."

Hodgson said the hamlet would also like to see the GN expand its tank farm to the point where it would be large enough for Rankin to service the entire Kivalliq region.

"We want to be able to function as a regional centre because that's what we are.

"Creating a regional fuel facility in Rankin would be an efficient step in that direction."

Difficult to forecast

Community and Government Services (CG&S) Deputy Minister Tom Rich said the needs of mining companies are difficult to forecast.

He said companies are given a specific request sheet every year to log their fuel expectations with the GN.

"It's difficult for mining companies to forecast their needs because they go on a stop-start basis depending on world prices of the various commodities they're looking for," said Rich.

"The plan we have in place will ensure the fuel needs of the community are met, and leaves room to expand should the needs of the resource industry reach that point."

The GN is currently undertaking a 20 year capacity design for Rankin which will see its fuel-storage capacity doubled by the year 2008.

The initial study should be completed within five weeks.

At that time a contract will go out for the design phase, which is scheduled for completion by April of 2006.

"Actual construction should begin during the summer of 2006, with the anticipated completion of the project in 2008.

"So, if the mining industry does take off and the demand is created - and assuming the GN has the money - we can easily construct additional tanks.

"Once a mine comes on-stream, it's easier to predict fuel needs from year to year.

"As we see what happens over the next five to 10 years with the industry, then we can determine if additional capacity is needed."

Rich said he's not sure where the hamlet of Rankin Inlet came up with its population projections.

He said the PPD uses a three per cent a year growth factor to project population growth and its impact on fuel requirements.

"The PPD has been using that formula for quite some time and it's proved to be quite accurate.

"Obviously, with our young population, we have a high rate of growth.

"However, over the next 10 years or so, as our population ages, we expect our growth to level off.

"So, three per cent should be plenty in providing us with accurate projections."

No regional facility

Rich said there are no plans in the works to make Rankin a distribution centre for the Kivalliq region.

He said the GN has far greater need of capital funding in areas such as housing and health.

"We'd simply be replacing one storage with another, so there's no particular issue around a need for a regional storage facility.

"We are nearing the point in time where we'll need to expand capacity in Rankin, and that's why we're moving on the 20-year program now."