Advancing infrastructure developments will benefit the North, Canada

28 September 2017

The NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines is encouraged to see advances in several northern infrastructure projects. Since northern Canada suffers the largest infrastructure deficit in Canada, the successful financing and construction of these projects will help make northern mining and exploration more competitive, and will help advance new projects which will generate socio-economic benefits for the North and its residents and communities.

In the Northwest Territories (NWT), recent infrastructure announcements include:

  • Tlicho All Season Road: The NWT Government (GNWT) has selected three qualified construction applicants and the project will be private-public-partnership (25% Federal Government funded and 75% consortium funded under a P3 arrangement) for the 97-kilometre road from Highway 3 to the Tlicho community of Whati. The road will facilitate development of Fortune Mineral's 50-kilometre long spur road to support construction and operations of their NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper mine, mill and concentrator.
  • Slave Geological Province Access Corridor and Mackenzie Valley Highway: GNWT has submitted expressions of interest to the Government of Canada for funding. The mineral rich Slave Geological Province hosts the NWT’s producing diamonds mines, as well as significant untapped and diverse mineral potential. It is currently accessed by the world’s longest, industry built ice road that is at risk from climate change. Similar to the Slave Province, the high resource potential of the Mackenzie Valley and mountains would benefit from road access.
  • Prairie Creek Mine Access Road: This 180-kilometre long all-season road would link Canadian Zinc Corporation’s proposed Prairie Creek zinc-silver mine to the Liard Highway, with half of the proposed road transiting the Nahanni National Park Reserve. The Mackenzie Valley Review Board has recommended the Federal Government approve the road advance to permitting.

In Nunavut, several infrastructure projects are also advancing:

  • Grays Bay Road and Port Project: Led by a unique partnership between the Nunavut Government (GN) and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA), the project proposes a deep-water port on the Arctic Ocean with a 230-kilometre all-season road into the mineral-rich Slave Geological Province. A future phase will extend the all-season road a further 95 kilometres to the NWT border, and would link Nunavut to Canada by road for the first time in Canada’s history. The regulatory review of the project was launched this summer with financial support from the GN. The GN and KIA have received confirmation that the project meets funding criteria under the National Trade Corridor Fund, and preparing a detailed business case. The project is on schedule for construction to begin in 2020 and be open in early 2024 to serve exploration companies, mine developers, community re-suppliers and local Kitikmeot residents, seeking to drive south.
  • Nunavut-Manitoba Winter Road: GN is seeking support under the National Trade Corridor Fund to connect Rankin Inlet with a 600-kilometre road south to Manitoba.


Nunavut’s mining industry is also advancing transportation infrastructure:

  • Road to Amaruq was completed in August and connects Agnico Eagle’s Amaruq deposit to its Meadowbank gold mine. This 64-kilometre long all-season road adds to the company’s earlier investment in a 110-kilometre long all-season road from the Meadowbank mine to the community of Baker Lake, which benefits from the mine. The mine’s access roads, 100% financed by the company, are now the longest roads in Nunavut, which continues to rely on air and marine transport.
  • Mary River railway: Baffinland Iron Mines has applied for permission to construct and operate a new 110 km rail line and a second ore dock and ship loader to accommodate Cape sized vessels.
  • Hope Bay tote road: TMAC Resources is advancing applications to construct and operate a 55-kilometre road to link their Madrid and Boston gold deposits to the Doris Mine and tide water, a new deep-water port to facilitate the annual sea lift of bulk commodities to the Hope Bay mining camp, and a heavy lift aircraft capable runway for the Boston site.   

The minerals industry is the largest private sector contributor to Northwest Territories and Nunavut economies, and is successfully converting the North’s mineral potential into training, employment, business opportunities, and tax and royalty revenues to both public and Indigenous governments.

“We are very encouraged by the support from all levels of public and Indigenous governments for northern infrastructure. There is growing recognition that northern infrastructure investment will promote economic development, will build our nation, reinforce Arctic sovereignty, and so importantly, create new opportunities to strengthen the North’s middle class,” said Chamber of Mines President Gary Vivian. “Support of these new projects will help get the North back on track after what has been a 40-year gap in infrastructure investment for the minerals industry, which is the North’s economic advantage,” he added. “Northerners will benefit.”

An industry study, “Levelling the Playing Field”, has identified that the cost premium of working in Canada’s North is directly related to a significant infrastructure deficit.

For more information on the NWT and Nunavut mining industries, please visit the Chamber of Mines website at or contact Tom Hoefer, Executive Director at
Tel: 867-873-5281 or email: