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Mining to drive Nunavut growth this year: report

Meadowbank produced $18 million in wages for Nunavummiut


Mining protected the territorial economies from the worst of the so-called Great Recession and will drive major economic growth this year, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.

“Thanks to growing demand for raw materials, the territories have forged ahead and managed to avoid the difficulties marking most provincial economies,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, the board’s associate director, in a release.

“The mining industry in each of the territories is expected to post double-digit growth this year.”

In Nunavut, mining will play a bigger role in economic growth than the public sector, which makes up 40 per cent of the territorial economy, the report said.

Mining is forecast to grow Nunavut’s gross domestic product by 3.3 per cent in 2011, compared to 1.9 per cent growth in the public sector.

That growth in mining is pulling the rest of Nunavut’s economy along with it, the report states. The territory’s wholesale and retail sectors are forecast to grow by 4.6 per cent over the next year.

The transportation sector will grow by 3.2 in 2011, largely because of activity at the Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake.

Meadowbank was also responsible for a major spike in employment. Nunavut’s total employment rate grew by 6.2 per cent in 2010.

The mine created 425 new jobs, 250 of which were filled by Nunavummiut, who earned more than $18 million in wages there.

“The mine will be a steady source of income for Northern workers for the next decade,” the report stated, adding the number of jobs in Nunavut’s mining sector is expected to grow 44.6 per cent in 2011.

Meadowbank, and its sister mine, Meliadine, near Rankin Inlet, are forecast to keep Nunavut’s mining industry humming for most of the next decade, with per-capita gross domestic product predicted to grow from $35,900 in 2010, to $42,900 in 2019.

But the report also warned that Nunavut’s rapid population growth will keep the overall unemployment rate high.

“Moreover, much of the newly generated income will flow out of the territory, as non-resident workers are expected to take up a significant (but decreasing) share
of the jobs created by these mines,” the report said.

But profits from the two mines should also help boost the Government of Nunavut’s income from corporate taxes, the report’s authors predicted.

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