Nunavut Post

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Tough year for mineral exploration in Nunavut, Northwest Territories


Key Takeaways:

  • Some of our mines were among the first in Canada to set up their Covid testing labs.
  • It is becoming increasingly challenging to provide a simple guest editorial on mining in two territories as Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

They develop their personalities, regulations, and approaches to mineral resource development. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been the common denominator for nearly everyone in the country and both territories this past year.

They have had a significant impact.

One diamond mine in the Northwest Territories closed for several months, while the other two mines managed to maintain reduced operations in what was possibly the worst diamond market ever. As a result, sales and prices fell, and downstream factories and retail stores struggled to remain open.

On the other hand, Nunavut mines are in a much better position because the gold and iron markets remained strong. However, dealing with Covid posed significant challenges for all mines to protect their workers and local communities.

Mining was declared an essential service by governments due to its economic importance in the North, provided the industry could demonstrate strong health protection systems.

The mines’ best efforts were rewarded. Workers from small and vulnerable Northern communities were sent home to be protected from the virus, but the majority of them were still paid.

Overall, their careful actions satisfied public health officials enough to continue operating, which they accomplished with reduced workforces, stringent testing, and flying workers to socially distanced mine sites on chartered aircraft.

The statistics on mineral production tell an exciting story. The value of the Northwest Territories fell by nearly $400 million, as expected, due to the closure of one mine and poor diamond prices. On the other hand, Nunavut saw an about $500 million increase, owing primarily to strong markets.

In either case, the losses and gains are significant, and they will impact the economies of both countries. On the plus side, we do have several projects that are getting closer to mining decisions. They would mine gold, which continues to command high prices, and critical minerals such as rare earth, zinc, and cobalt.

These are the critical metals needed to combat climate change through the electric vehicle and alternative energy components. In addition, the recently elected federal government has promised notable exploration tax credits for essential mineral projects, which should boost exploration for critical minerals.

Source: Nunavutnews

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