Explore Topic: Oil, Diamonds & Gold—The North’s Mineral Wealth

People have long been drawn to the North for its abundant mineral resources. Many of the communities and much of the landscape along the route of the Alaska Canada Barrenlands Traverse has been shaped by natural resource development. Consider these facts:

  • The Circle-Central mining district at the very start of the ACBT route has a long and colorful gold mining history that actually pre-dates the famous Klondike Gold Rush of 1898.
  • The Mackenzie River basin in the Yukon Territory has been at the center of Northern oil and gas development since the 1920s, long before Alaska’s famous Prudhoe Bay.
  • Massive uranium discoveries in the Great Bear Lake region (Port Radium) were developed in the 1930s and became the source of uranium for the secret Manhattan Project and the atom bombs that brought an end to Word War II.
  • Copper deposits along the Coppermine River were used by the indigenous Inuit for centuries to make hunting weapons and tools.  Discovering the mysterious source of the copper used by the Inuit lured Samuel Hearne on an epic two year quest of the Barrenlands in 1769, the first documented visit by an outsider to the central Canadian Barrenlands.
  •  The expedition will pass through one of the largest gold mine development complexes in northern Canada—the Lupin Mine, an underground mine located on the shores of Contwoyoto Lake in the Barrenlands of Nunavut. The mine was closed in 2005 but has plans to re-open in the near future.
  • Diamond prospecting is the most recent chapter in the history of mineral exploration in the remote barrenlands. Discoveries of gem-grade diamonds are currently being mined at several sites along the expedition route.  The ACBT has made arrangements to tour one of the largest diamond mining complexes-- the Ekati Mine, with a workforce of 700 people in the heart of the Barrens. Learn more about the diamond industry and watch for Web updates on the Ekati visit. 

Have your students do additional research on these topics using the highlighted search terms and learn more about the history and challenges of resource development in the North.  




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