Forty Years of Northern Non-Renewable Natural Resource Development


  • W.W. Nassichuk



Coal, Economic geology, History, Hydrocarbons, Mineral resources, Mining, Transportation, Weather stations, Canadian Beaufort Sea, Canadian Arctic Islands, Mackenzie Delta, N.W.T.


Northern Canada is endowed with abundant non-renewable natural resources, and exploration and development of those resources have increased steadily since World War II. Particularly during the past 20 years new regulatory controls have been emplaced in response to elevated concerns about the possible impact of resource development on the environment. During the past 40 years gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, asbestos, tungsten, uranium, coal and other minor commodities have been produced from more than 30 mines in the northern mainland, but at the present time only 6 mines are producing gold, silver, lead and zinc in that area: Con, Giant Yellowknife, Echo Bay, Mount Skukum, United Keno Hill and Faro mines. Lead and zinc are being produced at the world's most northerly mine. Polaris, on Little Cornwallis Island, and lead, zinc and silver are mined at Nanisivik on Baffin Island. At least 375 oil and gas wells have been drilled north of the Arctic Circle in the northern mainland since 1947, and 42 oil and gas fields have been discovered in the Beaufort Sea-Mackenzie Delta area alone. Total discovered and undiscovered resources in the latter area approximate 2131 billion cu m gas and 1.35 billion cu m oil. From 1961, 176 wells were drilled in the Arctic Islands and 17 oil and gas fields were discovered. Discovered and undiscovered resources approximate 2257 billion cu m gas and 686 million cu m oil.

Key words: minerals, oil, gas, coal, Beaufort Sea, Mackenzie Delta, Arctic Islands, weather stations, transportation