The Nunavut Impact Review Board gave the green light to an all-weather road from Rankin Inlet to Agnico-Eagle's Meliadine project this week.

The company says the 24-kilometre all-weather road will cost about $21 million.

Rankin Inlet mayor Puujjuut Kusugak said some people in his community worry about the possible impact on wildlife and the environment, but he says the Meliadine project is important for the hamlet.

"What I've said right from the beginning is you have to sacrifice a little to gain something, and our sacrifice is the use of our land, and what we're gaining from it is training and employment," he said. "And that's something that we've been hearing from community members right from the start."

The all-weather road will not be open to the public. It will only be used by Agnico-Eagle to access the Meliadine exploration project.

But Ryan Barry, executive director of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, said that would change if and when Agnico-Eagle opens a mine at Meliadine.

"Phase 2 of the road, which the proponent has proposed to include within the larger review of the gold mine project, would allow for unrestricted public access as well as upgrades of the road to keep the road permanent for the life of the mine," he said.

Work on the new road could begin early next month, but first Agnico-Eagle needs licences and approvals from several other regulators and agencies.

A company spokesperson said those are expected in the coming weeks.