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At Baffinland’s Mary River Mine, located on Baffin Island, Nunavut, iron ore, is loaded onto bulk carrier ships during the July-September ice-free summer season. Photo: Baffinland Iron Mines

The production phase, which includes extraction and processing, is the most well-known part of mining and the one from which the biggest results are generated. These include many years, often decades, of training, jobs, and business benefits created locally and through Canada, and revenues for the mine owners and shareholders who took the investment risk. Additionally, taxes and royalties are paid to public and Indigenous governments.

The North’s newest generation of mines train their teams to work safely, produced over 200 trades journeypersons, currently employ about 5400 people, and have spent C$25 billion for total cumulative operating costs. One-third of the employment is northern and the majority of this spending is with northern and northern Indigenous companies.

These are the big picture benefits from northern mining and come from an industry which occupies a fraction of a per cent of the Northwest Territories/Nunavut area. For example, Diavik Diamond Mine, with its tiny footprint in the NWT, occupies only 13 square kilometres, or 0.007 per cent of the NWT’s area. Diavik generates over a billion dollars of wealth per square kilometre of land disturbance.

In the North, a mine’s footprint includes open pits, underground workings, as well as ore processing, power, water treatment, and waste management plants, as well as workforce accommodations, airports, roads, engineered waste rock piles and tailings containment facilities, as well as various other infrastructure. The northern mines are off-grid with no year-round road access.