The demographics of Nunavut indicate a very young and poorly educated population spread over wide areas in small isolated communities. The current economic sectors will be unable to expand and meet the demands of this emerging workforce. Given the realities of Nunavut, the most promising direction in which the economy may expand is through mineral development. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) has established the legislative framework for sustainable development in Nunavut through mineral development. The NLCA has transferred ownership for much of Nunavut’s potential mineral resources to beneficiaries of the lands claim. Royalties generated from mining operations on subsurface Inuit-owned lands, and to a lesser extent on Crown land, will flow back to beneficiaries of the lands claim through their administrative company, which may then be invested in the communities. Additional benefits of mineral resource development in Nunavut will be realized through impact and benefit agreements.
To realize the benefits from mining operations, Nunavut has to be able to attract and support exploration and development companies through the release of high-quality geoscience data. However, due to Nunavut’s isolation and the expense of conducting geoscience fieldwork, the jurisdiction lags far behind the rest of Canada in terms of quality and quantity of government geoscience. About 70% of the territory is inadequately mapped to attract exploration companies or to make informed land-use decisions. The role of government-funded geoscience in Nunavut is to stimulate exploration and discovery through new framework mapping and focused thematic projects. The timely delivery of high-quality geoscience products will attract exploration companies to Nunavut and further their efforts to discover and develop mineral resources in order that the subsequent benefits of this activity may flow to the beneficiaries of the NLCA as well as all other residents of Nunavut.