Riches of the north
Major sites of mineral development in the Arctic and Taiga ecozone stretch from the oil and gas-fields of Norman Wells on the Mackenzie River to the newly discovered reserves of nickel, copper and cobalt at Voisey’s Bay in Labrador. But it is the northern diamond mines that have stirred the greatest excitement. In 1991, diamonds with economic potential were discovered in diamond-bearing kimberlite rock at Lac de Gras, some 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
The discovery precipitated an exploratory rush unprecedented in Canadian mining history. The Ekati diamond mine at Lac de Gras began operating in 1998. Other sites may be mined in the future. The recovery of the diamonds from vast quantities of waste rock takes place in a processing plant. Cutting and polishing takes place at Yellowknife. In 2000, the Ekati mine reported total sales at $430 million worth of diamonds. Another mine — Diavik — is also operating in the Lac de Gras area. The money, jobs, and investment have boosted the northern economy. By 2003, Canada ranked third among the world’s diamond producers.
This slide show consists of seven photos of two of the major resources of the Canadian Arctic: diamonds and oil.