Global downturn takes a toll on Canada’s north 'mining boom': report

Canada’s territories, not long ago believed to be the epicenter of a mining boom, are feeling the effects of sinking global commodity prices, says the Conference Board of Canada, but longer-term prospects for the industry in the country’s north remain strong.

Nunavut’s mining sector, says the report, is experiencing both accelerating growth and downside risks.

Production at Agnico-Eagle Mines’ Meadowbank gold mine in 2012 far exceeded initial predictions, and output is expected to rise over the next three years.

On the other hand, Arcelormittal and Baffinland’s Mary River iron ore project was scaled back from a planned $4-billion expenditure to a $740-million project. The revised plan is expected to produce less iron ore and not include a rail line or the Steensby Inlet port, although it will begin operations earlier than it would have under the larger project.

Even with the downgrade, overall economic growth in Nunavut is forecast to be 3.4% in 2013 and 8.8% in 2014.

According to according Territorial Outlook: Winter 2013, the Northwest Territories are in a privileged position as recent discoveries demonstrate it doesn’t depend solely on diamonds, a sector that is both maturing and entering a long-term decline.

Last week the N.W.T took a giant step closer to gaining unprecedented control over its own land, water and natural resources, but without support from two of the territory’s aboriginal governments.

Now the jurisdiction will be able to keep a large chunk of revenue from resource development that currently flows to the federal government.