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Mining Developments, Mineral Inventory and Metallogenic Models: Arctic Regions, Northwest Territories, Canada
Native people collected, traded and used native copper, pyrite, galena, chert, quartz and various kinds of soapstone, carving stone or pipestone long before contact with Europeans. Today, many Inuit quarry and carve various kinds of “soapstone”. Their sculpture represents the only mineral commodity which undergoes a high degree of processing in the north and has a significant economic impact on their society.
The first European mining operation in the Canadian Arctic took place more than four centuries ago, when Sir Martin Frobisher mined and shipped some 2000 tons of worthless rock back to England (1577-1578). Former producing mines in the Arctic include the Eldorado Mine at Port Radium, Great Bear Lake, the nickel-copper mine at Rankin Inlet on the western shore of Hudson Bay, the Tundra Gold Mine at Matthews Lake and the Hope Bay Silver Mine on Melville Sound.
At present, there is one lead-zinc mine in production at Nanisivik on northern Baffin Island. A second lead-zinc mine, Polaris on Little Cornwallis Island, and two gold mines, at Contwoyto Lake and Cullaton Lake on the mainland, are just beginning production. Mineral exploration continues at high levels for several commodities and deposit types. A number of deposits and a substantial tonnage of mineral inventory have been discovered and the list continues to grow. Favoured metallogenic models include vol-canogenic massive sulphide deposits, Mississippi Valley type lead-zinc deposits, unconformity-related uranium deposits, gold associated with iron formation, and gold with quartz veins. The latter type is found mainly in rocks of the Yellowknife Supergroup, often with complex quartz-carbonate-sericite shear zones.
Major coal resources within the Upper Cretaceous and Lower Tertiary Eureka Sound Formation of Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands are currently being explored.
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